GlobeAir took delivery of two more Citation Mustangs as the company has begun to see a resurgence in demand for short legs in smaller aircraft from the business community. Founded in 2007, the Austria-based company has built a fleet of 16 Mustang very light jets that it flies on relatively short legs throughout Europe.
The additions of the 15th and 16th aircraft—among the final to come off the Mustang assembly line—were spurred by a strong fourth quarter for the operation that carried into the first quarter of 2017, said GlobeAir CEO Bernhard Fragner. The end of the year and the beginning of a new year tend to be slower times for business travel, he said, but noted that did not hold true in the most recent quarters, giving confidence to make the move to add to the fleet.
The traffic has been particularly stronger in Western Europe, Fragner said, noting that Eastern Europe has not quite rebounded as hoped. While the market globally has trended towards longer-range and bigger aircraft, Fragner said he sees a “strong need in the entry-level segment. The segment is growing as business travel in Europe is recovering.”
GlobeAir (Booth C64) is solely targeting the entry-level segment with plans to maintain an all-Mustang fleet. While Textron Aviation produced its last few Mustangs this month, Fragner is not as concerned about prospects for future additions, noting that a strong secondary market remains for the model. Longer-term, he hopes to increase the fleet to 20 aircraft by 2020.
GlobeAir bases aircraft at major cities in Europe, including London, Paris and Nice, among others, using an optimizing tool to ensure aircraft are always available in the major locations. The aircraft typically carry business travelers on day trips, he said, mostly about an hour or an hour and a half from major cities to remote locations. The company recently reached an agreement at London City Airport to base a Mustang there.
Travelers charter the entire aircraft. GlobeAir in past had tried per-seat scheduled options, Fragner said, but found customers instead wanted flexibility of whole-aircraft charter.
GlobeAir has steadily built up operations as it sells time and the quality of its service. “Entrepreneurs and executives are switching on to the idea that private jet charter is not just for the super-rich,” said Mauro De Rosa, chief marketing and sales officer. “In today’s global economy they see the value of using business aviation to speed up their deals and lift their companies to higher levels of efficiency.”
GlobeAir saw revenues jump 19.6 percent in 2016 to €21.3 million ($23.9 million). Its hours also were up, with the largest increases coming from cross-border revenue flights from France (+19 percent), the UK (+36 percent), and Switzerland (+5 percent).
This year is showing increased strength. The company logged 582 flights in the first quarter, averaging 157 flight hours per aircraft, a 31 percent jump from last year.