Skywork plans start-up project for business jets

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SkyWork Airlines is planning a business jet start-up to use the clutch of corporate jets inherited from its owner Alexander Gribi, according to the carrier's current chief executive Tomislav Lang.

The business jet start-up, Fly Giardino, will be a joint venture with sister company Giardino Hotel Group, which, like SkyWork, is owned by Swiss investor Daniel Borer through his holding company Centaurium.

Fly Giardino will offer connecting ad hoc charter flights from Bern airport in the Swiss capital to clients staying at any of the Giardino hotels scattered across Switzerland.

In addition to its growing fleet of four Dornier 328 and three Bombardier Q400 turboprops, SkyWork owns two Hawker Beechcraft King Air twin-engine turboprops, which will be used in the Fly Giardino initiative, Lang explains.

SkyWork's chief procurement officer Hans-Peter Röthlisberger will take ownership of the project on behalf of the airline, Lang says, adding that Giardino will be the main driver for marketing the venture.

The plan is for Fly Giardino to launch in June. "We already have a logo for it," Lang reveals.

After teetering on the brink of financial ruin, SkyWork bounced back into business with scheduled commercial flights to 19 European destinations as a result of Borer's acquisition of a 100% shareholding in the Bern-based airline in 2010.

The airline still owns two light business jets - a Cessna Citation Ultra and a Bravo - that it is looking to sell, Lang says.

Borer is a member of the family that held a 50% stake in Rolex Bienne until it was sold for more than Swfr2 billion to Rolex Geneva in 2004, according to press reports. Besides aviation and five star hotels, Borer also invests in designer furniture.