ASL, with operational bases in Antwerp and Eindhoven in The Netherlands as well as in Kortrijk, Belgium, has added a Citation XLS+ which belongs to a private owner and will be available for ad hoc charter.
The company has a fleet of around 25 aircraft, the smallest being a fractionally owned Cirrus SR-22. Other types include King Airs – C90s, 350s and 200s – a wide range of Citations including the Mustang, CJ1 and CJ3, and recently it has entered the long range market with a Legacy 600, a Challenger 605 and a Falcon 900. Project manager Maxime Wauters is enthusiastic about the operator's expansion plans: “We have grown rapidly over the last three to four years and we have very interesting plans for the future with additional aircraft joining the fleet. We will eventually open new bases elsewhere in Europe.”
He says the XLS+ is already on the ASL AOC and arrived recently: “It is currently flying for the owner but has not yet been engaged in charter. The first charter flights are expected for the month of May, because we are still waiting for the Belgian authority to give us the approvals. As soon as we have these we will begin operating the aircraft for commercial flights.”
Eighty per cent of ASL's fleet is managed and the remaining 20 per cent is owned. The King Air and Citation are majority owned, while the longer range aircraft are mostly managed. The Legacy and Challenger both have private owners and are currently flying in Asia. Wauters admits that costly overheads are a risk and for this reason the operator has been unable to purchase heavy jets so far: “We are not ready to own long range aircraft ourselves, as we prefer to use the management model.”
ASL's statistics indicate that the market is picking up; it has increased its number of flights and flight duration by 20 per cent compared to last year. The number of quotes and requests is also on the rise. Wauters reveals that at the end of June a factory-new Sovereign+ will join the fleet, privately owned once more but available for charter.
“We are having heavy discussions with a lot of potential customers who may be interested in acquiring either shares in an aircraft or a complete aircraft,” he says. “Within ASL we also have Blue Sky Aviation, which is a shared ownership programme. In this branch we currently have a Mustang and a Pilatus PC-12 among others. We are trying to attract customers to ASL through this means, and trying to sell the fractional ownership model as a way of getting customers into the business aviation industry."