Lux good, feels good...and does ExecuJet good
It was back in 1991 that ExecuJet opened up for business in Lansaria near Johannesburg to set a new standard in African business aviation. Today it is part of a much bigger global business. Alan Peaford finds out why.
Mergers and acquisitions always have a certain amount of pain and a fair amount of baggage associated with one side or the other, but one of Africa’s proudest names in the business aviation sector, ExecuJet, has no complaints.
Last year the Execujet group was acquired by Luxaviation, the the Luxembourg-based company which was formed in June 2008 as a small business offering aircraft management and charter sales with only one aircraft, a Cessna Citation XLS, and six team members.
With a belief that the business aviation market could benefit from consolidation, the company began to grow, expanding the quality and breadth of the services provided to clients.
First German operator Fairjets came into the fold in 2011; in 2013 leading Benelux firm Abelag joined the group. With offices set up in Asia, acquisitions continued in Europe with London Executive Aviation being bought in 2015, followed by Masterjet.
Then came the big one with the ExecuJet group and its 165 managed aircraft fleet and 24 FBOs, making the expanded group the second largest corporate operator in the world with 250 aircraft.
For Ettore Poggi, vice president Africa, combining forces with the European company was a no-brainer. “There have been only good things to come out of this,” he said.
“There are a lot more opportunities for being part of the group,” Poggi said. “We have seen major inspections including a C-check for a Falcon. We have access to a bigger fleet and there are more prospects, for sure. It brings economies of scale.”
Poggi said the next stage now was to make sure everyone works the same way, “That is a culture change right the way through the organisation,” he said “We have to work closer together – and that will happen.”
Since its inception ExecuJet has been a major African player. It currently has 32 aircraft in its African fleet, of which 27 are available for charter. But the company goes much further than that with expertise covering maintenance, charter, FBOs and support operations.
One major operation this year involved the company proving the capability of St Helena to open to provate aviation.
“Our team played a key part in introducing private aviation to the South-Atlantic island,” Poggi said. “ExecuJet staff flew from Johannesburg to St Helena as part of the airport’s certification process and Lanseria Airport will continue its partnership with St Helena Airport over the coming years, managing its airport operations and air space, and providing reliable air services to the island.”
During the last 12 months, the ExecuJet Africa team has worked on a series of successful maintenance ventures. In March, ExecuJet, in partnership with Maintenance Centre Malta (MCM), announced an extended Line Maintenance capability for EASA registered aircraft at its base in Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, Nigeria, to provide support to a larger fleet of different aircraft types. “We now look after Embraer Phenom 300 and Legacy 600 at Lagos,” Poggi said, “as well as Bombardier, Dassault and Textron Hawker-Beechcraft products.
“Lagos is growing for us. We are delivering good service.”
In June, ExecuJet Maintenance concluded another successful Blackhawk installation on a King Air 200 aircraft. This installation, combined with a Garmin 1000, is a perfect mid-life upgrade to the King Air 200 series aircraft and provides the crew with exceptional situational awareness and improved safety combined with improved climb performance, and improved cruise performance at altitude to allow cruise in the RVSM range and therefore resulting in an improved operational range.
A further two King Air 200 craft have undergone major interior refurbishments and been installed with Garmin 1000 technology, while C-Checks on two Falcon 900Bs, incorporating major structural repairs, have been completed and delivered since January 2016.
Poggi said that ExecuJet Africa consistently demonstrates the highest level of commitment to aviation safety and quality at its facilities worldwide. “ExecuJet’s Africa facilities have maintained International Standard for Business Aircraft Operations (IS-BAO) certification for many years and the company is the first in Africa to achieve International Standard for Business Aircraft Handling (IS-BAH) accreditation and is also a Wyvern Wingman member.”
Execujet will be stretching its reach further. Later this year the company will be adding Antarctica to its operating licence and has flights in a company Falcon planned for December.