Rani Singh writes about aviation. She reports on news, foreign affairs, politics and business... Read More
The European Business Aviation scene is complex at this time. Rani Singh speaks with Bjorn Naberhuis, VP Business Development and Hardy Sohanpal, Sales Director, Middle East/Africa at Global Jet to discuss the flying habits of European users entering 2016…
Headquartered in Geneva and with offices in Luxembourg, Vienna, Paris, Monaco, Moscow, Beijing and Hong Kong, Global Jet is well positioned to offer insight into the flying habits of Business Aviation users within Europe as we leave 2015 behind and look ahead at a New Year.
European Business Aviation has been fairly flat regarding hours flown by owners and operators in 2015. What are the hotspots – what types of destinations are still drawing the most traffic at the moment?
Bjorn: There are a number of fundamental statistics that can show the actual movement numbers, but mainly the flights tend to go from the large metropoles - the financial hearts of Europe, as well as the popular holiday destinations.
London, Paris, Nice, Berlin, Geneva, Zurich and Milan are still the places where the most traffic occurs. Overall Europe is proving a popular continent for many visitors including those flying in from the Middle East, Africa and Asia.
What are the key reasons that Europeans are using Business Aviation at this time?
Hardy: There is actually a large availability of low-cost airlines within Europe at the moment, but the larger airports have become more ‘time’ consuming to pass through, less flexible and less reliable.
Private jet travel will continue to be the most efficient way to travel for a group of executives flying in Europe, with easy access to dedicated, small, personalized airports that are investing in advanced facilities catering specifically for passenger needs, and a mantra that says ‘no schedule, just your schedule’.
Bjorn: Key drivers of Business Aviation, when compared to commercial airlines, include a combination of flexibility, privacy and the ability to personalize your space to a detailed level.
Politically connected individuals or large corporations require a high level of privacy whilst discussing business. Even business class on the airlines does not equate to complete privacy for travellers.
Security is a big advantage of using Business Aviation. What, if any, impact did the terror attacks in Europe have on European Business Aviation?
Bjorn: The recent security threats have had several impacts. First of all, airport security was raised at key locations - planning flights has become more operationally-intensive and a high level of in-house expertise is required to ensure clients’ requests are met.
It was noticeable in the past (for instance) for flights to military airports or any airport in the UK, that a passenger manifest was required ahead of the flight. Now we see France stepping up its requirements. Other countries will surely follow.
Flight routes have also been impacted with certain regions becoming more restrictive - for example, overflying places such as Ukraine, Syria, volcanic ash areas and northern parts of Africa. The limitations have a negative impact on flight times as well as adding to the overall trip cost. From an operator’s perspective, safety has always been priority number one, and goes hand-in-hand with security.
Any negative aviation-related event could have an impact on the overall industry. So we continuously adapt to the market in every way possible - not only from a security or economic perspective, but any situation that occurs around the world.
How has Business Aviation changed over the years in Europe?
Hardy: Historically, there used to be a simple correlation between GDP growth and aircraft utilization. Over the past few years this has slightly shifted as developed economies have had to adapt to the long-term impact of the financial crisis.
The fundamentals now seem to point to a correlation between the state-controlled global Quantitative Easing (QE) programs and the steady growth of long-range wide-body aircraft. In other words, the top-end of the market has grown and may continue to do so globally as wealth is accumulated at a faster pace.
Generally in Europe supply outstrips demand and this is expected to continue. In Europe some operators with light aircraft have created businesses that appeal to a new segment that we call the ‘convertible’ market (i.e. those normally travelling First- or Business-Class on the commercial airlines now find it more cost-efficient or financially justifiable to use so called ‘air taxi’ services).
The air taxi segment is likely to grow as commercial airports continue to become busier. Overall, Europeans are generally conservative when it comes to flying large jets, since it is likely to be interpreted negatively by the general public, whereas in other places in the world, large aircraft are a necessity if you are always travelling in a large group.
So with this in mind I believe the demand for small and midsize aircraft could increase slightly in the near-term, responding to the various fragmented global economies. The heavy jet segment will remain stable globally.
Bjorn: There are many different cases we could use to show how private aviation has offered the most efficient option for the user - particularly in the case of the air-taxi solutions and empty leg platforms available to European clients.
I recall one client who had three business meetings in Europe a few times per month. These meetings – predominantly with Stock Exchange-listed companies—required face-to-face interaction.
Commercial airlines just couldn’t have accommodated the client’s timetable. It made sense to hold all the meetings in one day, to save time and make the deals. That was the flexibility offered by Business Aviation. Instead of having a High-Net-Worth CEO spending several days traveling around airline schedules, Business Aviation enabled him to travel more efficiently from an economic perspective as well as from a time perspective.
Global Jet at a Glance
1. Number and location of Global Jet AOCs: 3 (Luxembourg, Austria & China)
2. Number of aircraft under management: 70 (including VIP Airbus, Falcons, Globals and Gulfstream);
3. Worldwide Aircraft Management capability;
4. Dedicated Aircraft Sales team in Monaco;
5. The company has been operating in China for over 10 years.