Thailand business jet and helicopter charter firm Advance Aviation plans to add three Gulfstream G200 aircraft over the next three years.
The company, which commenced jet operations in February, operates a single G200 aircraft that it purchased from Hong Kong's Metrojet, says Advance Aviation vice-chairman Chai Nasylvanta.
To reach its desired fleet size, it plans to buy one G200 and enter management agreements for two others. The two managed aircraft could be owned by individuals or companies. The company could also obtain a Gulfsteam V.
"We intend to be a pure Gulfstream operator," says Chai. He adds that since the G200 is no longer produced, the company will obtain its next G200 second hand.
"The G200 is the largest, roomiest, most comfortable, and longest private jet available for charter in Thailand," says Chai.
The company also operates four helicopters outfitted for the VIP mission - the firm commenced helicopter operations in 2007. It operates two twin-engine Eurocopter EC135 P2+ helicopters based in Bangkok and two single-engine EC130 B4s, of which one is based in the northern city of Chiang Mai and the other on the resort island of Phuket.
The company may purchase an additional EC130 that would be based on the resort island of Koh Samui, but this is contingent upon the completion of a luxury resort development on the nearby island of Koh Tao.
Chai notes that the company plans to operate only helicopters built by Eurocopter and that it only buys brand new helicopters.
"It will be a while after this before we start expanding again, unless there is major development in the market," says Chai. "Currently, we are the largest helicopter operator (not counting offshore platform activities), holding more than 80% of market share. We are the only operator which has multiple helicopters, and we are also the only operator that has geographical coverage over the whole kingdom of Thailand from north to south."
Chai sees 80% of the market for Advance Aviation's jet charters coming from international customers and just 20% locally. It markets its charters through global brokers, as well as its existing helicopter clientele. As for helicopters, 95% of its missions are within Thailand, although it sometimes undertakes flights to Myannmar, Laos, Malaysia, and Cambodia.
It takes at least three days to get a landing permit for helicopter missions that land in places other than airports, with such permits requiring approval from both the Thai Department of Civil Aviation and the armed forces.
Chai says the regulatory environment for helicopter operations improves every year in Thailand. He adds that the industry would enjoy faster growth if Thailand releases more authority to pilots and operators, creating a environment similar to that in the USA and Australia.