Kate Sarsfield/LONDON

Business aviation service provider PrivatAir is aiming to establish a network of fixed-base operations (FBO) throughout the USA and Europe to strengthen its private airline brand.

The Geneva, Switzerland-based operator entered the aircraft handling and management market for the first time earlier this year when it acquired Ogden's Flight Services Group (FSG) in Connecticut and Transair at Paris Le Bourget airport. Dave Kinson, PrivatAir's commercial director, says: "We are now in the process of rebranding and integrating our new companies. While work on the Transair facility should be complete by the end of the year we are expecting rebranding of the FSG network [with 17 locations] to be complete by the end of the first quarter."

FSG's Bridgeport, Connecticut, base will provide the initial focus for PrivatAir's entry into the FBO market, and should be established by the middle of next year. The acquisition of FSG gives PrivatAir access to a fleet of around 20 managed aircraft throughout the USA, enabling the company to expand its charter network.

PrivatAir's fleet consists of six aircraft - three Boeing Business Jets (BBJs), a Boeing 757, a Boeing 737-300 and a Gulfstream IV-SP. The last two have been dispatched to Bridgeport to support the US operation. Further aircraft acquisitions are unlikely in the short term, the company says.

PrivatAir concedes, however, that penetration of the US market will be difficult as both its name and the private airline concept are not well known in the region. Kinson adds: "We hope to change the US industry's negative perception of charter. The PrivatAir brand offers customers exclusivity and a level of service luxury not normally associated with this form of travel."

The Swiss company is also seeking to expand its private terminal concept in Europe and the USA, based on its Geneva airport facility set for completion by the end of the year. "Our aim is to promote the use of business aircraft and make this method of travel very appealing," says Kinson. By establishing dedicated business aircraft terminals globally, and through the formation of value-added products such as limousine travel, PrivatAir believes it can gain control of passengers' whole travel experience.

Meanwhile, PrivatAir is continuing negotiations with two London businesses to launch five-day-a-week transatlantic shuttles between London and New York Kennedy, using two of its three BBJs (Flight International, 24-30 April).

Source: Flight International