Karen Walker

When Thomas Hirschmann says he is seeing stars, he's talking pretty serious business.

An example of that business can be seen here at the Dubai Air Show in the shape of a VIP-configured Boeing 727-100 that is looking for a buyer.

It was Hirchsmann's company, Jet Aviation, that was responsible for designing and completing the aircraft's spectacular interior.

Finishing touches include stars fire-etched into the aircraft's marble flooring, a raised dome ceiling, and upwash lighting.

The company designed the whole interior on computer, then developed a three-dimensional, computer-generated rendering of it. Such renderings are proving increasingly popular with customers, says Hirschmann, because they can take a "virtual walk".

Hirschmann, the company's chairman and chief executive officer, is confident the aircraft will be sold soon, based on the company's past experience of exhibiting at Dubai.

"We have attended for the last two shows and both have been extremely good for us," he says. "I think it's the only show that I can remember where we have walked away with contracts. It is a show you can do business at - that's why we are back for a third time."

Hirschmann describes 1997 as "the best year ever" for Jet Aviation in terms of profitability.

"We are looking for new opportunities, particularly in North and South America and in Asia.

"Because of our sheer size in Europe, we don't have any real opportunity to grow there, because we would be competing with ourselves. Asia is still a growth area, although I think people over-estimate how fast it will grow."

This month, Jet Aviation reaches its 30th anniversary. From its origins as an aviation maintenance company based in Basel, Switzerland, Jet Aviation has grown into a global business aviation service with 2,650 employees worldwide. Its managed fleet now includes more than 145 aircraft.

"I think we have grown because we have responded to what our customers wanted. It all started out as a maintenance facility in Basel, then Executive Jet Aviation looked to us to do its maintenance in Europe, so we and they got together and one thing led to another. Then we started offering charter services ourselves, and cabin interiors. Today, wherever you are in the world, you are never far away from Jet Aviation."

Hirschmann says the base that the company established in Singapore at the beginning of this year has been going "just fantastically-we are well ahead of budget, so that always makes me happy. We have also been looking a little bit at expansion in the Emirates, but to tell the truth we have been so busy building up our facilities in the US and Singapore."

Source: Flight Daily News