Dubai-based trip-support and FBO services provider Jetex Flight Support is aiming to become the world’s largest FBO operator outside the Americas, after adding new facilities in Kansai, Japan, and Abidjan, Ivory Coast, and celebrating the 10th anniversary of its Paris Le Bourget facility, all in the past 12 months.
“Our target is clear: we want to build the biggest network outside North and South America, the biggest international FBO network outside the American continent,” Jetex’s founder and CEO, Adel Mardini, told AIN. On the eve of the NBAA convention, Mardini said that Jetex has 39 FBOs in operation worldwide and expects to open its 50th before the end of next year, a target he first referred to last year.
He said all 39 FBOs listed on the company’s website are operational. “[T]he service offering may vary depending on the airport. The services we offer at a small airport in [provincial] France are quite limited when compared with Dubai or Paris, for example. Some locations have 100 [jet movements] per year, others 10,000. It depends on the location. All of them have the same function: to facilitate private jet arrival and departure. We still plan to have 50 FBOs operational by the end of 2020.”
Jetex operates two FBOs in the U.S., at Opa Locka Airport near Miami, Florida, and at San Bernardino International Airport, California, but says it is not looking to take up further FBO opportunities in the U.S.
“We have an operations center in Miami with a team working 24/7 to offer trip support to local operators when flying international routes,” Mardini said. “There are more than 30,000 flights operating from airports in the U.S. to international destinations every month. Our Miami operations center offers assistance to those operators when flying to Latin America, the Caribbean, Europe, Asia-Pacific, and Africa.”
Jetex is constantly upgrading the array of services it provides to a well-heeled clientele all over the world. “In our network, we see growth mainly in celebrities and sports people,” he said. “These two categories are not necessarily more demanding, but prefer 'full service.'"
“We are focusing on the experience we deliver to our customers,” he said. “We are not only offering them trip support and planning. We offer private yacht, private villa, private helicopter, full concierge, security and all the rest. It's not only about our responsibility to the customer when he needs the terminal. We are now arranging an entire suite of services.”
The company expects to open its newly constructed FBO at Marrakech, Morocco, in December. Jetex Kansai handled more than 30 flights for the G20 Summit in Japan last July. “It was a big job,” he said. “When you have a one-off summit, you prepare, because it's official. For the UEFA Champions League final in Madrid at the beginning of June, we handled more than 65 flights in one day. We brought in team members from Morocco to support the team and provide the required handling capacity.
“We have a long list of people who use us not only for private jet but also for full service. There's a gap in the market for delivering services: today's VIP not only books a flight to [destinations in the Middle East or Africa, for example], but also wants other services: transportation, private villa, private butler, and concierge. These people are looking for a one-stop shop: from the airplane, to security, transportation, everything.”
Jetex’s IT system is on the verge of a full launch. “We decided a year ago to make a major investment in the company's digital platform, which has been developing over the last 12 months,” he said. “The system is not 'members only'; it is open to all customers on our database. They can apply for any service online. Whether they own a jet or not, they can apply for VIP services, and we have full capability. It will not open to everyone until the end of the year; it is still in the test phase.”
Jetex also provides private-jet owners and operators with a useful international perspective which it comes to advising on various facets of traveling to and from the U.S., such as border overflight exemptions, Customs Border Protection (CBP) preclearance, and the Advanced Passenger Information System (APIS). In 2017, Jetex also weighed in to support the NBAA’s stance against the Trump Administration’s plans to privatize the U.S. air traffic control system.
Jetex also views the Canadian market as promising. ”The U.S market is still number one, but we also see growth in the Canadian market,” he said. “We offer full trip support to a major operator in Canada, and we have a new account joining us who has started doing business. We are always gaining more customers there.”
In South America, Mardini has seen Bogota, capital of Colombia, emerge as a popular destination. “One location which has surprised me in terms of the number of movements is Colombia,” Mardini said. “We see increasing business volume there. We don't have any presence on the ground there yet, but I see more flights going there. Bogota has become a destination for people flying privately.”