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FAI Rent-a-Jet reflects on busiest month



FAI Rent-a-Jet is reflecting on its busiest ever month in April which saw it complete nearly 800 hours of flying with three Bombardier Challengers and a Global on medevac missions.

It has been flying between continents - from Asia to the Middle East; Europe to the USA and Middle East to USA. “This has been the busiest period since we started 30 years ago,” commented FAI Chairman Siegfried Axtmann, noting a fourth Challenger went into maintenance in order to keep the high utilisation levels up and keep the three others in the air.

FAI recently had to reduce its Learjet activity, owing to a progressive lack of scheduled airline connections for re-positioning crews and heightened immigration restrictions in Africa and Middle East. This has hindered activity to a certain extent, he notes.

There has been strong demand for its EpiShuttle isolation pod patient transfer system. FAI is one of a few operators in the world to offer the hard box pod, which enables self-contained oxygen and air ventilation directly to the patient, isolated from the cabin’s airflow. (Others have the soft box pods developed for Ebola patients a few years ago).

FAI Chairman Siegfried Axtmann

FAI Chairman Siegfried Axtmann.

Its charter business on the other hand is very quiet. In Germany we have a travel warning until June 15 and could not operate passenger service into certain EU countries because of limitations and quarantine requirements. If we do business trips for passengers leaving the country for more than 72 hours, they would have to go into quarantine when coming back. “We don’t know when travel will fully reopen, but we don’t expect to go into the main summer destinations such as France and Spain, for weeks, probably not before July. The other issue is the reduced demand from our customers. Do people want to travel until there is a vaccine?”

Balearic Airports don’t want private jets - for now

Some countries, we regularly visit, like the Balearic Islands, are restricted in that you can only pick up passengers, but can’t bring non-Spanish residents in. The Balearic Islands airports only offer Coronavirus tests to passengers at the main hubs – so they have made a stand, they don’t want private jets coming in. This is different in London, Vienna and Italy, for example.

Siegfried believes there are two schools of thought on business aviation ‘driving the rebound.’ “Of course, it is characteristically strong to lead. On the other hand, economies have dived and one of the first things to cut in a crashed economy is travel.”

Corporations, he believes, will be more responsible with travel decisions in the future. “I don’t think you can isolate from the fact that (in Germany) 10 million people are now furloughed and another 2.5 million are unemployed. This should lead to social responsibility (for a Board). Firstly, would they fly if there is an infection risk and secondly, there is the case of justifying business jet transport if they had previously flown business class.” The business jet will more likely be more acceptable if there is no alternative and that meeting cannot be done remotely, he suggests.

He believes that the re-opening of the USA to international travellers will be the catalyst for worldwide economy recovery, followed by Europe lifting its quarantine rules for non-EU citizens.

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BlueSky Business Aviation News | 21st May 2020 | Issue #558



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