May 2016

Our Customer GlobeAir’s CEO – Bernhard Fragner – recognized in Europe

Europe’s largest Citation Mustang operator, GlobeAir of Austria, is adding another six to bring its fleet to 20 of Cessna’s very light jets.

GlobeAir is showing that the niche market for very light jets may be growing. Last year the company posted a profit of EUR2.3 million on revenues of EUR17.5 million, and the number of flights operated rose from 5,100 to 6,000.

“Our charter sales rose 20%,” says Founder and CEO Bernhard Fragner. “At the moment I think our product is at the right place at the right time.” Overall, he notes, very light jet activity in Europe is 22% up year-on-year, whereas most other sectors are flat or around 2% down.

Fragner says Europe is struggling economically, except for the UK and Germany, and that a lot of his customers previously used mid-size cabin aircraft such as the Citation XL and XLS to fly just one or two people.

“They survived the 2008 financial crash through streamlining their own companies, cutting costs and giving better value,” he explains. “Basically, in 1.5 hours and with just one or two passengers they can get to most places in Europe and don’t need to fly in an XLS,” which according to Fragner is around 30% more expensive than a very light jet. “Sometimes we fly four passengers aboard our Mustangs, but our average is 1.4 passengers per flight… so with our niche I believe we can continue to grow.

“What helps us significantly is our fleet size, in that we can guarantee a flight, whereas an operator with only two to three aircraft cannot. Given my fleet size I can always find a solution.”

So is the term ‘Air Taxi’ dead? “We learned in Europe that this business is still discreet, and that people are not willing to share the cabin – we tried the cabin-sharing model and found it doesn’t work in Europe,” he says.

Fragner believes that the great differentiator between his operation and others is its ‘can do’ attitude. “I think from day one we focused on the customer even if it cost us money to put things right.”

The key to the success of Globe Air is basing the aircraft where the market is, and the most stable market at the moment is London, so its aircraft are distributed among that city’s airports, of which the busiest are Luton and Biggin Hill. Across the Channel, Paris-Le Bourget, Geneva and Nice are next busiest. “We have aircraft permanently based at those airports,” Fragner says.

The six new aircraft will be spread across the network to meet growing demand in the London area and in Zurich, while Munich will also have a permanently based aircraft.

Fragner’s advice is to question every expense. “A simple thing that we questioned was why should a GBP100 landing/handling fee cost GBP110 every time we used the same airport? We found the handling agent was charging a GBP10 administration fee each time, as he had to forward the fees to the airport authority. So we opened an account directly with the airport and now pay monthly rather than per-flight.”

Market development is still a key to continuing growth. “Our industry is really great at marketing itself within the industry, but we have to market ourselves better and address the potential customer base directly,” says Fragner, who tries to spend two days per week talking to new potential customers, and every week he finds one or two that have never heard of business aviation.

“These are millionaires and entrepreneurs, very successful people, and they are the last to learn how they can save more time efficiently. Their perception is that business aviation is just for the top celebrities, that using Gulfstreams and the like costs hundreds of thousands of dollars per flight. We offer them a 50% discount on their first flight, then once you have them at the aircraft they come again.”

Read the story here

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Two of our customers – GlobeAir and JetSuite partner for a 2 continent solution

Austria-based executive air charter operator GlobeAir (Booth B051) is here announcing a partnership with U.S.-based JetSuite to offer each other’s “last mile” service to those customers who travel back and forth across the Atlantic. GlobeAir and JetSuite specialize in very light jet flights, with Cessna Citation Mustangs and Embraer Phenom 100s, respectively. GlobeAir has been bucking a downward trend in the air charter market, according toCEO Bernhard Fragner.

A new cabin interior, created by an automotive designer and featuring leather seats hand-crafted in Florence, Italy, has been created. It has already been fitted to 12 of GlobeAir’s 14 Mustangs. Downtime for installation is said to be only two days. The work was supervised in house, a lower-cost option when compared to the quotes obtained from refurbishment specialists, Fragner said.

EASA has just approved GlobeAir as a pilot-training provider for the Mustang. Another recent investment has been the addition of a second mobile repair team.

In the first quarter, GlobeAir saw a 17 percent increase in movements, which translated into a reported 10 percent sales growth. Fragner therefore hopes revenues to swell to €23 million in 2016. Last year, revenues stood at €18.6 million. “We have hit the bottom level of pricing,” Fragner added.

In future, Fragner sees a need for a second maintenance base. He also would like to grow the fleet to 20 aircraft, a threshold estimated to minimize deadhead legs. “From our 10th Mustang, we saw economies of scales kicking in,” he pointed out.

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Drones Are The Future of Fleet Management

story by Sarah Murray

Few fleet managers would see attacks by bald eagles on their vehicles as a threat — that is until news emerged that Dutch company Guard From Above is training birds of prey to intercept hostile drones. However, while the birds will target unauthorized machines used in the execution of crime, legitimate commercial drones are not in their sights.

Aside from their offensive potential, drones offer a growing range of applications in the fields of security and surveillance. Much attention has focused on the possibility of drones delivering packages. But the difficulties of navigating urban areas safely means that, for now at least, there is greater commercial potential for use of drones by industries whose operations are in remote locations.

Monitoring the integrity of large, distant infrastructure such as wind farms and oil and gas installations is one task to which drones are suited. Monitoring gas flaring at oil and gasfields is one such example where drones can replace human surveillance, whether from the ground or aircraft.

“When you’ve got plants and machinery moving around, that’s where it’s ideal,” says James Harrison, co-founder and chief executive of Sky-Futures, which uses drones to inspect oil and gas installations. “They’re flying computers that can capture a lot of details and data that humans can’t, and from angles and places humans can’t get to.”

Moreover, drones do not get tired or bored. “Drones replace the individual where the job is very remote, tedious, time-consuming and prone to human error,” says Roei Ganzarski, president and chief executive of BoldIQ, whose software helps companies manage complex operations.

Drones can also help reduce the risk of fighting fires, particularly in areas prone to outbreaks such as Australia and parts of the western US, by helping crews understand more quickly the direction in which the fires are moving.

“With the smoke, you don’t want to put up a piloted aircraft,” says Mr Ganzarski. “A drone could fly into the fire and give real-time information on where to go to and where not to go to avoid risk.”

Farmers are harnessing drones’ capabilities. By flying over fields, the machines can collect accurate images of the state of planted crops, providing more detail than satellites. This allows farmers to identify areas where crops need more attention to increase yields. Using drones to spread fertiliser or pesticides across large areas of land means any accidents involve a machine rather than putting pilots at risk of injury or death in light aircraft. Across such industries, drone fleets could start to emerge as companies see the potential for the cost savings and increased safety during surveillance and other operations, says Simon Menashy, investment director at MMC Ventures, which has invested £2.5m in Sky-Futures. Many oil and gas operators are interested in deploying drones on their platforms permanently, says Mr Menashy. “And there are 10,000 oil rig platforms in place around the world.” But as the industrial use of drones spreads, a question for operators will be how to navigate the vast amounts of data generated by fleets of flying robots.

In some ways, managing drone fleets will not differ from other fleets. After all, logistics companies have long used software to collect real-time data on trucks and other vehicles to devise fuel-efficient routes and faster deliveries. However, the type and volume of information drones can collect and transmit will demand new forms of data analysis.

“There’s one big difference in the operation of drones versus trucks, vans and taxis, and that’s the threedimensional element,” says Mr Ganzarski. “A drone doesn’t just go down a fixed road — it can fly anywhere and at any altitude.” Rising drone usage may not spell the end of other types of fleets. “You’ll see a lot of companies taking on drones,” says Mr Ganzarski, “not necessarily as the main vehicle, but as a supplement or part of a mixed fleet.”

Meanwhile, data management, emerging regulations covering the operation of drones and the need to take steps to ensure they fly safely will create new challenges for fleet managers.

This is not seen as a barrier to the growth of drone fleets, however. According to the Teal Group, a US-based research and analysis firm, global spending on the production of unmanned aerial vehicles — for both military and commercial use — will reach $93bn in the next 10 years. It is an industry with high-flying potential — in every sense.

See the full story in FT.com

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