For our Perspectives series, we talk to experienced business aviation industry professionals who share with us their individual insights and offer a window into their world. This month's interviewee is Kelly Otte, accountable manager for Dutch operator Silver Flight. The company has a penchant for Pilatus aircraft and should soon be able to offer customers the flexibility of travelling either on the PC-12 turboprop or the PC-24 jet.
“We’ve had our AOC since September last year, and we have put a Pilatus PC-12 onto it. We’ll be adding more aircraft as soon as the coronavirus situation in Europe is under a little more control than what it is now. We plan to add two further PC-12s in the coming year, and we are also now adding a PC-24. The PC-12 is an economical solution, because it is cheaper than most business jets, even though the cabin is much wider than the competition. We have the big cargo door on the side, and an important feature is that we can land on unprepared runways, on grass or gravel.
Using the PC-24 you can reach a bit further and get to your destination a little bit faster, and you get the same features, including the great cargo door. Pilatus aircraft are very environmentally-friendly, and the PC-24 is able to land on very short runways. They are very nice aircraft.
The PC-12 is under our own management and is available for charters 24/7, 365 days a year. We fly missions from Amsterdam mostly, but we are available throughout Europe. We fly mostly through Europe and Turkey, as well as the northern part of the African continent.
The feedback so far from customers has been that they are pleasantly surprised by the spaciousness of the cabin. It’s big compared to what they are used to. The cabin was designed by BMW DesignWorks. It’s very modern, and there’s lots of light thanks to multiple windows. Customers have been very happy with this, to be inside such a cabin. They are also able to take much more luggage than they are used to. Pilatus aircraft are workhorses and able to carry a lot of equipment, and again you don’t always get that with other business jets.
Since the start of the virus outbreak, we came up with a solution to disinfect the cabins. Because we were a start-up, our overheads were low, which made things easier: we were already lean and mean on the overheads. What you see on the market at the moment is that leisure flying is nil, almost nothing. Business travellers still need to go places, however, and we are able to provide them with the service that they need, and we also have quite a few government flights. Governments are unable to get to their destinations using regular airlines any more, especially places that usually have a low volume of passengers. So we have been able to get them there.
We will be managing the PC-24 for a client, and it is open to charter requests. It’s a bit of a different story to the work we are doing at the moment with the PC-12. Over the next few months we would like to continue to demonstrate to passengers the flexibility of flying short haul this way. We will be able to offer clients the ability to switch between a turboprop and a jet, and that’s a big opportunity. The two aircraft offer a similar service but differences in speed.
The market is very challenging at the moment, but we are noticing with our requests that there are a lot of people who are standing by, ready to fly again. We are anticipating a big boost in flying in the coming months as the vaccinations continue. We are preparing for a big boost, so we can provide our services to as many people as we can.”