At LABACE there are always hundreds of companies visiting that are not exhibiting, but from these will come future exhibitors that will help the fair grow. One such company is Prague-based ABS Jets, and two young managers from this operator took time out of their busy schedules to come to Brazil for three days aiming to drum up more business at LABACE.
Michal Salanda, ABS Jets’ operations control center (OCC) manager and Michal Pazourek, director of ground operations, told AIN they hope to exhibit next year, having visited the show five years ago and then last year.
Pazourek said that although based in Prague, Czech Republic, ABS Jets has a strong connection with Brazil, as it is an Embraer operator with six Legacy 600s/650s. Until recently it also had a Phenom 300 in its fleet. It also has a Gulfstream G650 and a Boeing 737 under management.
Salanda said seeing clients all in one place, rather than traveling by taxi through São Paulo, lets them see more. “We come twice a year, once for LABACE, once just to visit customers. Outside LABACE, we can only see three in a day, with two-hour taxi rides,” he said.
Pazourek observed that the market seems “very alive, it’s really changing. It’s important for us to be here.” He said ABS has about 20 clients in Latin America, mainly in Brazil but it has one notable customer he mentioned—the president of a Central American country who uses a Legacy. His officials use ABS Jets for trip planning and support for flights to Europe, Asia, and Australia.
The ABS Jets OCC in Prague has built up a wide customer base and, according to Salanda, around half its trip support business is on behalf of third-party customers from other regions—often where aircraft owners and charter companies want assistance flying into Europe or Russia, where ABS has a lot of experience of due to its proximity to the country. Last year, for the football World Cup in Russia, “there were a hundred flights just from Brazil,” said Salanda.
Brazil has proved a good source of trip support customers and ABS employs Spanish and Portuguese speakers, helping to overcome language barriers.
Both stressed, “It’s the whole logistics issue, not just flight plans,” which are easy to do. For example, ABS offers advice on airports that are easier and cheaper to fly into, and they can be there to help support clients during their operation with any problems that arise.
ABS Jets started as a cargo operator 15 years ago, flying a Fokker F-27 for UPS. It now also has a solid charter fleet and an EASA Part 145 maintenance operation, allowing it to carry out maintenance, including heavy maintenance, on its Legacy fleet and aircraft operated by other companies.
“With our own operations, we visit 700 airports per year,” said Salanda. “Flight planning is the cherry on the cake. ABS “also supports expeditions," he said, "We’ll sometimes handle an aircraft going around the world...last year we handled a single pilot Cessna 210 going around the world.”