Pilot Jose Miguel da Costa is enjoying a third dream vocation as he builds the international charter capacity of Omni Aviacao - a company he launched in his spare time.
"I started out in the Portuguese Air Force as a pilot. It was a boyhood dream. I went into general aviation and in 1988 achieved another dream, that of being an airline pilot - captain of Airbus with TAP," says da Costa.
"Working for an airline I found myself with spare time between flights that I wanted to put to worthwhile use rather than just play golf. So I launched a company with a partner, Rui Almeida, and it has been a lot of fun."
Now Omni Aviacao is reinforcing its charter fleet based in Paris and Lisbon with a Lear 40XR arriving in February 2008, a Lear 45 in October 2008 and a Challenger 300 in May 2009. It has also just acquired a Falcon 900 and a Lear 45, both pre-owned. Omni Aviacao likes Lears, with a 31 also in its current fleet. "They are very popular with our clients who like the comfort and speed," says da Costa. He rates Le Bourget as one of the top business aviation locations in Europe. "Having another AOC in Lisbon gives us an added dimension and is a very good location for the Iberian peninsular. It is close to North Africa and popular holiday island destinations."
The charter aircraft service the whole of Europe, and corporations provide the major slice of business (80 per cent) with individuals and air ambulance taking equal shares of the rest. "Our internationalisation programme began in earnest in 2000 when we opened a subsidiary in Brazil and then, in 2004, we bought an aerospace group in Le Bourget. We identified Le Bourget as having some of the largest movements in Europe, around 60,000 a year," da Costa adds.
Another Omni Group company, Aero Service Handling, an executive aviation handling operator in Le Bourget, has been integrated into Omni Handling. During da Costa's 28 years in aviation, which included a substantial stint in charter in South Africa, he has instructed fixed wing pilots and chalked up 12,500 hours flight time.
The Omni Group which he founded in 1988 has evolved into an aviation group with 11 different operating companies in Portugal, France and Brazil, employing around 400 staff and with a 2005 consolidated turnover in the region of O90 million.
Groundforce Portugal has taken a 50 per cent stake in Cascais FBO Omni Handling forming a partnership with Omni Group that is now offering executive aviation handling services around Europe.