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Skydrift enters Belgium with Bandeirante
Skydrift Air Charter has started a new business charter operation at Ostend Airport. Having acquired a second Embraer Bandeirante, the company intends to open a new market segment in the region, offering ad hoc charter flights between the Continent and the UK.

Skydrift Air Charter has started a new business charter operation at Ostend Airport. Having acquired a second Embraer Bandeirante, the company intends to open a new market segment in the region, offering ad hoc charter flights between the Continent and the UK.\rThe company, which was taken over by Dekyver Sky Group last year, also operates a Piper Aztec and a Bandeirante from its UK base at Norwich Airport.\r“We decided to put the second Bandeirante on our UK AOC a few months ago and, in order to give our clients a better service, we chose to base one of the aircraft in Ostend,” commented group md and owner David Dekyver.\r“We have a very good relationship with the airport and it’s in the middle of our client base; the UK, France, Germany and Holland are all nearby, so we’re in a good position to serve our clients. We have a Belgian crew here who can be airborne within 45 minutes to an hour, flying to any destination in Europe, day or night.”\rOn the decision to acquire a second 15-passenger Bandeirante, Dekyver says: “It’s an aircraft Skydrift operated for about seven years, around which it built up a very good client base. It’s a very nice aeroplane and it offers plenty of volume.”\rThe aircraft performs ad hoc charter and has proven popular among larger aircraft operators to ferry crews to Ostend. Dekyver believes that it is uniquely positioned to minimise delays: “The positioning flights are now much shorter, saving us a lot of time, which is very important in the world of aviation.\r“Part of the reason we bought the aeroplane was on request of some of our clients who could have used the aircraft a lot, but have not done so in the past because the reaction times were slower and the positioning times were greater. Those times have been reduced greatly now.”\rSkydrift’s fleet makes between 800 to 1,000 flight hours per year, a figure which it hopes to increase by 500 hours with its latest acquisition. In order to increase availability to its clients, the company has employed two full-time Belgian crews, as well as new pilots in the UK. “It’s no good having an aircraft on the ground with no crew!”\rOstend Airport’s director, Gino Vanspauwen, is hopeful that Skydrift’s operation is a success. “It’s a new market segment and it’s one that we, along with David Dekyver, wish to grow. We saw immediately that they could do something for wide body aircraft operators, bringing over crews from the UK to Ostend.\r“The airport is growing at a fast pace; we saw an increase of 138 per cent over last year. We have a lot of ad hoc operators with larger aircraft but the Bandeirante is the first aircraft of its type here to be used for business flights.”\rVanspauwen sees potential in this fledgling market at the airport and welcomes other business aviation operators. “It shouldn’t be Boeing 747s only. We have a passenger apron, a wide body apron and a general aviation apron; there’s space for everybody.”