Like many aviation companies in the Czech Republic, ABS Jets – a Prague-based business aviation services company – markets itself on the “Western values/Eastern prices” principle.
The company offers aircraft management and charters for mostly Czech and Slovak owners, as well as maintenance and ground handling from its fixed-base operation at Václav Havel airport.
Its managed fleet, run under a Czech air operator’s certificate and comprising five Embraer Legacy 600s and two 650s, a Phenom 300 and a Bombardier Learjet 60XR, is used mostly by the aircraft owners. However, ABS has developed a substantial third-party business around its maintenance and FBO activities.
“Prague is a great base for us,” says Jan Králík, director of ground operations. “We are close to Russia to attract business from there, but also part of the West to provide a Western quality of work but for Eastern salaries. It’s the same job, but for less money.”
The company is based at Prague's international airport
The company is celebrating its 10th anniversary – it was one of the country’s first business aviation operators – and has been expanding steadily. Its first hangar, purchased in 2006, was a former Czech Airlines building dating from the 1930s, but in 2011 it opened a second maintenance base at the airport, specialising in Embraer types.
It launched its FBO in 2008. “We weren’t happy with the facilities on offer so we decided to open our own facility for our clients,” says Králík. “But we had so many external companies coming to us to ask if we would look after them that we are now number one in the market, serving 60% of the traffic at the airport, even though there is lots of competition.”
Králík says the company has been fortunate in that its fleet is mostly used by “owners, family and friends”, so avoiding the turbulence of the charter market in recent years. “That market is still tough. We are lucky to be on this side of the market. I look at the prices being offered sometimes [by other charter companies] and I ask if it covers the costs per hour,” he says.