Private firm is becoming airline of choice for corporate jet set, says managing director Graeme Campbell.
How long has Eurojet been operating in Northern Ireland and how many do you employ?
Eurojet is a local business which has now established itself as one of Europe’s leading private aviation companies.
We started off in Northern Ireland 23 years ago and now operate almost $100m (£64.9m) of private jet aircraft from bases at Belfast International, and George Best Belfast City airports, Gloucester, Birmingham, Dublin, London (Luton) and London (Stansted). We employ 40 people — however I anticipate total headcount rising in the near future as we add additional services and tap into new markets.
Do you have any plans for expansion?
We are presently able to fly clients to more than 2,000 airports across Europe, but the recent addition of new long-range aircraft to the fleet has allowed us to extend our operations to the Middle East and Asia.
In recent years we have seen strong growth, not only in our private jet management and charter operations, but also in our VIP ground-handling operations at Belfast International and Belfast City and our maintenance and engineering activities. On the latter, we hope to make a major expansion announcement in the very near future.
How has the recession impacted on Eurojet’s business? Have you had to make redundancies? By how much have corporate customers cuts back on air travel?
We have been fortunate that many of our loyal clients, some of whom have been flying with us for over 20 years, continue to use our services.
Fuel and other operating costs have risen and remain a challenge, but these increases have been experienced across the industry and our strong relationships with our suppliers have helped us contain costs as much as possible.
The economic downturn has of course affected everyone, however the flexibility and security offered by travelling by private jet has ensured that clients continue to use us for both business and leisure.
Have you launched any new initiatives to combat the current challenges?
Have you cut charges in the downturn?
Our charges remain competitive and reflect current market conditions. We have recently ‘piloted’ a form of frequent-flyer programme for our Northern Ireland clients in order to ensure they are offered the most competitive service from a local company.
No other private jet airline provides a specific service for local businesses. This programme is being well received and we’re likely to roll out the concept from our other UK regional bases.
In a competitive marketplace with plenty of choice for consumers, how do you win business?
Much of our new business comes from referrals and we’ve worked hard in earning a reputation for providing a premium service with emphasis on quality, reliability and safety.
Essentially we provide an ‘office in the air’ and get our clients to their destinations and back much more quickly and efficiently than they could achieve via commercial carriers.
The geographical spread of our operating bases and our broad range of private aviation services has also given us a competitive edge over our less diversified competitors.
How do your latest passenger figures for Northern Ireland compare with the same period last year? To what do you attribute the upturn/downturn?
Our passenger figures in the last 12 months have increased slightly from last year which not only reflects the greater awareness of our product among the business community and the value they place on it, but also the increasing number of clients flying privately for leisure.
For example, more people see the private jet experience as the perfect way to celebrate big milestone events.
How do you compare to other private airlines?
We are able to provide a much more bespoke, discreet and tailored service. We offer a complete service which extends beyond the airport, assisting clients in arranging their accommodation, ground travel and hospitality throughout their journey.
That level of personal attention and tailoring to the individual is vitally important, not least because a great deal of our business is generated through referrals from satisfied customers. We also specialise in aircraft sales, acquisition, management and maintenance.
Where do you take Northern Ireland passengers?
As Northern Ireland companies increasingly break into new export markets, we’re seeing increased demand for our services throughout Europe, Northern Africa and the Middle East.But through our partners we can also arrange private aircraft worldwide.
Are your customers all high net-worth individuals?
We have a broad range of clients. Everyone at some point may require the services of a private jet company, whether it is for a trip to Venice to celebrate a special occasion, a corporate event to Deauville for the races or factory visits in Hungary, you will achieve more in less time than by using by the scheduled airlines.
How do you view developments in passenger airlines, such as Ryanair and its imminent departure from Belfast City, and British Airways and its strike difficulties?
More and more people are becoming disillusioned with both low cost and premium scheduled carriers.
Our aircraft are not restricted in any way by the current runway length at Belfast City and we are able to operate well into Europe and beyond directly from both Belfast airports.
Our clients have the reassurance of knowing that we will be where they want, when they want. No strikes, all frills.