ASL/JetNetherlands has seen encouraging demand for its Citation X since making the aircraft available for charter on its AOC at the beginning of August. The company had its first taste of the market in southern France this summer with a Legacy 450, and project manager Maxime Wauters says that it was a positive experience: “The fact that the Citation X is back on the charter fleet is a nice step forward – it had been removed from our charter fleet following a change of ownership – and overall things are moving in the right direction,” he says.
“Having a temporary base on the French Riviera was a very interesting trial for us. From my experience during the summer in St Tropez, it was probably not the busiest. This could be due to recent attacks in France, I am not sure. People did not move around the area as much as we had hoped. But business wise, things have been pretty good.
“It was the first time that we have based an aircraft in the region ourselves. We had an agreement with Embraer to promote the Legacy 450 there, and we also wanted to advertise the fact that, since they reduced the runway length at St Tropez, the Falcon 7X can no longer operate there. So at the moment the Legacy 450 is the largest aircraft capable of operating commercially out of St Tropez, with good payload and range.”
Wauters continues: “We landed a few times in Nice, where historically the apron has been overcrowded with jets, and large ones at that; BBJs, ACJs and Gulfstreams. We were surprised to see so many empty spaces this year. We heard from a lot of partners that Americans didn’t want to travel that much to the area. We brought a lot of people to southern France early in the summer, but then they did not move, they stayed there and enjoyed themselves. Now we are bringing them back to northern Europe.”
It seems that clients were looking to take vacations elsewhere in Europe, and Wauters says that flights to Ibiza, for example, were ‘crazy’ busy.
Over the last couple of months some of ASL’s aircraft owners have dispensed with aircraft in order to trade in for the latest models. One customer sold a Legacy 600 in favour of a 650. “We have also had new customers approach us, newcomers to business aviation,” continues Wauters. “These customers are looking at midsize or super midsize jets straightaway, whereas in the past we used to have clients that started with Mustangs or CJs and then moved on to Excels or Sovereigns and then on again to Falcons.”
ASL has a fleet of 32 aircraft, covering over 20 different aircraft types. Wauters says it has a good relationship with all the OEMs, but such diversity on the roster is not without its problems. “All the various types do pose a big challenge for us. It means a lot of manuals and paperwork, and we have to put a lot of management programmes in place. But it has been successful nonetheless.
“We analyse our clients’ needs, and we don’t push them to a specific manufacturer, we just look at the model and base it on their requirements. We have equivalent models from all of the manufacturers on the table, and at that point it is up to the client to decide. We advise them, but they decide.”