Despite the challenges that have been thrown up by the COVID-19 pandemic, Belgium and Netherlands-based ASL Group continues to nurture ambitious projects for its future and hopes for a speedy recovery of the travel industry.
CEO Philippe Bodson says: “The last 12 months have been incredibly challenging of course. Not only for us, but for the entire aviation and travel industry, although I think that business aviation was somewhat less impacted than the major airlines. Or let's say that the impact was different. Business aviation proved to be an essential service, and this is exactly why we have been working continuously and fearlessly to keep our operations running 24/7, and we continue to do so as the market remains very sensitive.
“Our greatest challenge was probably to keep up with the extremely diversified travel restrictions (or sometimes outright bans) that were implemented on a local and national basis. We were deeply saddened to see so many different rules and regulations, especially within the EU, with little to no coordination between countries. This has been a real puzzle for our teams on a daily basis, and it represented a huge increase in workload in making sure that our flights could be carried out with the highest level of safety and compliance. And unfortunately, one year after the emergence of the virus in Europe and the implementation of the first travel restrictions, we are still facing the same challenges, but we are also still flying and we are still working hard on our future. Business aviation is now seen as an example of resilience and innovation in the field of transportation, and I believe that we are to lead the way in the recovery phase as well by demonstrating our commitment to safety and efficiency.”
ASL recently welcomed new aircraft in its fleet, including a Cirrus SF50 Vision Jet G2. The aircraft landed at Antwerp-Deurne, ending its flight from the delivery centre in Knoxville, Tennessee. It is the first Belgian-registered Cirrus Vision Jet to be delivered by Cirrus. ASL also launched new fractional ownership models through its Blue Sky Club programme. The company is still working on several other ambitious projects as well as on the diversification of its services portfolio.
“We are looking at adding between five and 10 new aircraft to our fleet in the upcoming months,” continues Bodson. “And we are also very excited to be only a few months away from the grand opening of our new energy-efficient base at the airport of Liege in Belgium, which represents a huge potential for our company.
“We also continue to work on the implementation of our RISE programme, which we introduced in 2020, and encompasses many specific initiatives aimed at making our global operations more sustainable and socially responsible. We have big projects for our future but we want these projects to be completely in line with our RISE sustainability policy. The crisis, which will hopefully soon be over, has also led us to consider new activities and services.”