Business aircraft and charter flight brokerage veteran Gabriella Somerville is launching a new venture aimed at making environmentally sustainable private aviation more readily available to customers who she believes are increasingly eager to embrace greener modes of transportation. Initially, Connect Skies will focus on sales of existing aircraft that have relatively low carbon emissions and reduced fuel consumption. In the longer term, the company aims to work in partnership with developers of new electric aircraft and so-called advanced air mobility business models.
Connect Skies is now negotiating an agreement to support an undisclosed U.S.-based company that is looking to introduce a new service based on both current fuel-efficient and electric aircraft. The company has expertise in the software needed to support the business model and also in operations, but it is seeking help to select and acquire the right aircraft and develop its new program in Europe.
Somerville, whose Connect Jet charter and aircraft sales business is in the process of establishing a partnership with Volanteus, told AIN that the business aviation sector needs to be far more proactive in responding to rising demand for more environmentally friendly ways to fly, while also emphasizing the progress that has already been made in this regard. “The environmental rebellion, with naming and shaming of [private jet] users, is gaining momentum and it’s a shame that we’re still seen as a foe and not a friend,” she said. “We need to show that we can be part of the solution and move forward, especially with attitudes shifting due to Covid.”
According to Somerville, the private aircraft sales model needs to differentiate itself more clearly and focusing on environmental performance is the most relevant way to do this now. Connect Skies intends to focus on existing aircraft types such as the Piaggio Avanti Evo, Pilatus PC-12, HondaJet, and Embraer Phenom 300. Its new website will be live from September 14.
“In business aviation we’ve got to know when the beginning and the ends [of market trends] are and be ready to divert for a change of course, otherwise we’re just treading water,” she concluded. In her view, business aviation needs to fully embrace the technology now being advanced by pioneers of electric aircraft, and vice versa.