Chief Business Development Officer, AVIAA
It can be scary to put your owner or charter client on somebody else’s plane. But we all have to do it. No fleet has every capability in every location. And owners and passengers don’t care to hear about your fleet deficiencies. They want to get where they want to go on time, safely, and in the aircraft they choose. You want to make sure they are getting the same high-quality experience they would get in an aircraft managed by you.
This is why the right international partnerships matter so much. Every operator needs partners that offer the same seamless service that their owners or charter customers have come to expect. As the world becomes smaller, business jet operators must make the most of the international network at industry events such as NBAA, ABACE, and EBACE to help create a better service for their customers or in private communities like at AVIAA. It costs a small fortune to attend these events, make sure the return on investment is high.
Every market has its own level of maturity and its own norms. Operators have to work together to ensure that every customer gets the experience they expect according to their local customs and at their standards.
So, what are the top issues to consider in building your international charter connection network?
You invest time and money into achieving Argus / Wyvern standards. Your customers expect this level of safety. But finding an international operator with this same level of safety internationally can sometimes be hard. Some markets just aren’t mature enough yet or only one or two companies operate in the region. In this instance you may want to enlist the help of an ARGUS certified broker which is a regulatory certification which affirms a broker’s commitment to air charter safety and best practices.
Customer satisfaction and attention to detail are your bread and butter. From catering to newspapers, WIFI, range of beverages, and bedding, you make sure their desires are met. This is second nature to you. So, match up with an operator internationally that has an excellent reputation for service. Share everything you can to help them provide the same level of service, such as sending notes with preference lists or helping order on-board items before the flight. I used to call the crew of the aircraft the morning of the flight to tell the Captain and the flight crew about my passengers’ personalities to give them a more holistic insight that would make the mission run smoothly.
Your sub-chartered aircraft has a technical issue. Back home you may have a fleet of aircraft that can be substituted. Internationally you are at the mercy of the operator you have placed your client with. Ensure your partners all maintain their aircraft well and have a deep bench of backup aircraft in the case of an incident.
Market maturity, fleet size, and operational costs such as parking, landing, and handling fees all contribute to pricing discrepancies between global regions. Adding in different taxation rules makes things even more complicated. When that client gets the bill for an Asian trip on a similar aircraft and route to one taken all the time in the US, they might be pretty angry about the high costs. You have to manage client expectations by sharing as much information about the trip as far in advance as possible, explaining the market differences, and preparing them for what costs they might try to avoid like that 200 Euro bag of ice. Who needs cold drinks anyway?
Cross Border Issues
Time zones and differences in language and culture are just a few of the issues that can make international trip planning tricky; not to mention operational logistics issues like weather, runway performance, airport opening times, NOTAMs, cabotage, trip support, and dispatch. Partnering with an operator who is knowledgeable on the immigration and customs procedures needed for international travel is a must. If you are not confident in the operator’s ability to deliver on these items, require them to use a high-quality trip support service, such as that offered by AVIAA partner Jetex.
That sick feeling in your stomach when you know your best client is on someone else’s aircraft? That’s a lack of control. You can’t manage every detail for a flight far outside your region or capabilities. Instead, spend the resources and time making solid connections on an international scale with fleet operators that you trust.
Transparency / Knowledge
Operating in different markets and territories requires transparency. With many sales agents of aircraft offering charter options it can be difficult to work out whether they are working as an indirect air carrier or not. The new FAA and DOT Part 295 legislation passed in February 2019 goes some way to providing a level of security and transparency to sub-chartering. Demanding accountability and details regarding aircraft can take you the rest of the way.