South African company aims to open up routes to under-served countries with three-year development plan.

ExecuJet South Africa is attempting to double its charter business in the rest of the continent over the next three years.

Around half of ExecuJet South Africa's charter business is generated by that country's residents flying within Africa, and only about 15% by residents of other African countries. In response, the Johannesburg Lanseria Airport-based company has drawn up a business development plan designed to increase charter business in the rest of Africa to 30% by 2006, says Ettore Poggi, ExecuJet managing director.

ExecuJet is the Bombardier representative in Africa, specialising in long-range missions. "There are 25 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, and around half of these have potential for our aircraft types," says Poggi. ExecuJet is competing for a number of government and corporate contracts to provide transcontinental transport, using the Global Express and Challenger 604 business jets.

Poggi says other corporate operators in more-developed African nations, such as the Ivory Coast, Kenya and Nigeria, do not have access to long-range aircraft. This is putting increasing demand on many government VIP aircraft, leading various countries to investigate ad hoc charters as a solution, he adds. ExecuJet has installed an agent in most of Africa's 54 countries to assist in flight co-ordination and ground handling matters.

The company expects the charter market to grow, as South African-based businesses expand into the rest of Africa. "The problem is that air links in Africa tend to go either north to Europe or south to South Africa and there are no east-west connections. So businessmen planning a multi-stop trip cannot do it [effectively] using scheduled carriers," Poggi says. "The challenge is to uncover and then harness the market in some countries that are just discovering wealth, such as Angola, Congo and Mozambique."

ExecuJet South Africa is also studying plans to launch a modified version of block-charter programmes in the region, and expects to launch a scheme within 12 months, says Poggi. ExecuJet Australia is also understood to be close to opening facilities in India and Singapore.

Source: Flight International