US VVIP business aviation services provider XJet is seeking to break ground on new seven-star fixed-based operations in Paris and at Abu Dhabi's Al Bateen airport early in 2011, bringing its new brand of high end, luxury "aviation campuses" to Europe and the Middle East for the first time.

The facilities will mirror the company's three-year old members-only facility in Denver, Colorado, where 15 aircraft owners pay a one-off fee for dedicated hangarage, handling, lounge access, 24/7 global concierge service and fuel at cost price.

XJet founder and president Josh Stewart says the business model has been a huge success. "Through XJet World, we have revolutionised private aviation and turned the traditional FBO model on its head," he says.

"Unlike traditional FBOs, which cater for pilots and which are heavily dependent of fuel sales for profit," he adds, "we have built a facility that caters for aircraft owners."

XJet draws its members from the local community and not the transient business aircraft traffic, on which FBOs are so reliant, he says.

"The club component is the cornerstone of the business. Because we make a profit through the membership fee we can offer very competitive rates on fuelling and handling for the transient traffic," Stewart says.

The business model is capital intensive, he admits, with between $20 and $30 million needed to invest in the high-quality facilities. "This amount of capital is a barrier to entry for many FBO providers, and that is what makes our high end brand so unique in the business aviation services industry," Stewart adds.

XJet has identified a green field site at Le Bourget and has submitted plans to Aeroport de Paris to develop the site. "We have two options here," Stewart says. "To build our own facility from the ground up or buy an existing company on the site and upgrade it. We are very eager to get established in Paris, where there is a strong local base of business aircraft owners and movers and shakers who we can service," he adds.

Al Bateen is equally important to XJet's long-term strategy, and it plans to break ground early in 2011 on a new facility at the flourishing site. "This is a gem of an airport and there are tremendous opportunities for XJet here," he adds.

Source: Flight International