Pan-European charter alliance AirClub has made further progress during the first half of 2016, and is able to procure favourable fuel prices thanks to bulk buying for its fleet of up to 150 aircraft operated by PrivatAir, FlyingGroup, GlobeAir, Air Alsie, Air Hamburg, ACM Air Charter, Jetflite and Prime Jet.
The group's strengths include aircraft availability in AOG situations, the ability to bulk buy and having uniform safety and quality standards.
AirClub COO Jurgen van Campenhout explains that the group had considered creating a shared booking platform for clients, but that in reality the development proved too complex. “We abandoned the idea last year because we saw that to develop this you don't need to be an operator, you need to be a software or IT expert, which we are not,” he says. “We are seven or eight operators and we are not IT specialists, so we wouldn't be able to develop a system that worked well enough to compete with all the big online platforms.
“You also need quite a lot of money to do all the publicity surrounding it. We might work with an existing system and create one for AirClub, where there is a limited number of operators and you need very strict criteria to be able to join in terms of safety, security, quality standards and so on.
“It will take time to find the right partner for the booking platform. We have been talking to Avinode and some others. There are a lot of platforms in existence. We need to find the right partner and if we don't find them, we probably won't do it.”
AirClub was formed to offer customers global coverage with aircraft. Each operator in the alliance is a separate entity but sometimes flights are branded as AirClub flights. “We have the charm of different identities and different approaches,” continues van Campenhout. “We do not impose certain things to all the members, but we certainly impose quality and service standards.
“The advantages of the group are the savings we can make, for sure. But the other side of it is having a partner available. If I have a technical problem with an aircraft in Copenhagen, I can call Air Alsie which will probably have an aircraft close by and is willing to help me out. We are simply establishing better relationships. When we became partners, we became friends.”