Austrian AOC operator GlobeAir expects 2021 to be the best business year in its 13-year history. “As early as February we noticed the increased demand for travel by private jet, especially from former business class passengers,” comments CEO Bernhard Fragner. “In addition to the uncertain booking situation and frequent flight cancellations by airlines, the reasons for this were the high number of touchpoints on commercial flights, which passengers still do not want to expose themselves to regardless of vaccination progress. We had expected an increase in demand in the summer of five per cent year on year, but were able to increase the number of flights carried out by more than 20 per cent.”
The company's homogeneous fleet has recently been expanded and now consists of 21 Cessna Citation Mustangs to meet the high demand for entry light jets. Currently it is looking into fleet expansion with light and midsize jets to increase the product range. “Something we are exploring right now is entering into aircraft management as numbers of private jet owners are growing,” Fragner explains. “In our industry, every day is a great challenge and unusual missions happen every hour. The greatest challenge is certainly the new situation after the pandemic of efficiently implementing a hybrid mix of home office and flex time in the team and growing stronger together again. GlobeAir has therefore set itself the goal of becoming an even more modern workplace, because we know that a happy employee also ensures satisfied customers.”
Consistency and extended communication were key to surviving the pandemic. “Our team became even more involved in transparent communication via various channels and social media, with the best-performing channels being LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook. Our social media have massively grown and keep growing, registering +300 per cent of profile interaction on Instagram only when comparing this year to the previous. Data and information are shared transparently and everyone knows what is going on in the company and in the market. This gives us a tremendous advantage and the agility that is necessary to run an airline in such a crisis.”
Fragner believes that, during the peak of the pandemic, the topic of sustainability receded into the background. “We see an increased demand from customers here and will give the topic increased importance again from Q4 onwards. In addition to the decline in the pandemic, we hope that there will be a rapid Europe-wide unification and standardisation of entry regulations. In addition, we currently see a need to catch up on staff at airports and air traffic control due to the previous downsizing during the pandemic. Last but not least, we of course wish all employees the best of health for the future.”
He is aware of the impact that business aviation and aviation, in general, have on the environment, and is seeing discerning customers demanding carbon offset options more and more frequently. “In 2019, we started to implement carbon offsetting options when flying on a GlobeAir private jet charter. Today, we are seeing more than double the requests for offsetting certificates compared to 2020. But, of course, we are aware that there is more and more to do. This is why we have constituted a dedicated team for corporate social responsibility, which is now preparing to draft a roadmap for sustainability at GlobeAir for the next five years. Carbon offsetting options are just the beginning; a paperless cockpit and a constant look at optimising waste in all business areas are what we can foresee for the future. Teams of aviation experts at GlobeAir are also starting to evaluate SAF (sustainable aviation fuel) options by considering the challenges involved in adopting the change, including costs, economies of scale and the nature of the fuel itself, which is unfortunately still a mix containing a percentage of regular jet fuel in it.”
The company says that it is in a stronger position than in the pre-COVID era, as discussions about European countries banning short-haul domestic flights with France could lead to severed connections between Paris and cities like Nantes, Lyon and Bordeaux and Germany with Hamburg and Munich, paving the way for private flying.