Although unique, the private jet experience is composed of a handful of variables, just like other services in multiple industries. Nevertheless, today more than ever due to social distancing and overall sanitary requirements, one of those components is key for determining the overall customer satisfaction for the passenger and the charter company: FBOs.
An FBO (fixed-base operator) is a place that offers two key services in private aviation. Firstly, it’s the place where passengers embark (like a small airport lounge without the check-in lines), and second, the site that services the aircraft, providing ground handling, fuel and sometimes even hangarage depending on the length of the stay at a certain airport. In simple words, the private jet experience wouldn’t even exist without FBOs.
There’s the other part, obviously, comprised by the inflight experience, responsibility of the private jet provider. But is it a separate phase of the overall experience? BitLux CEO Kyle Patel, said, “The private jet experience is one. The passenger doesn’t need to know there are two separate companies acting in the process. Why would they? The just want to fly with flexibility, privacy, and efficiency to their destination. We have the responsibility to partner with the proper FBO services provider, being responsible for the passenger’s experience and for how the aircraft is serviced and at what price.”
On the other side of the runway lies the FBO piece of the puzzle, adapting to any aircraft needs and greeting the passengers as they descend from the aircraft. There are several moving parts at any given time that need to be orchestrated before the passenger steps off the aircraft or arrives at the FBO facility. Clients will be welcomed and served by a professional FBO team who will gladly coordinate and facilitate any matter, big or small, assisting passengers with luggage, car rental, fueling, towing, crew support, and more.
So, it’s in the best interest of the parties, FBOs and private jet companies to deliver the best possible service, as if they were the same company. In fact, the client is precisely expecting that, a smooth experience with small to none transition from when passing through the FBO towards the private flight and vice versa.
Types of services
The private aviation market has different handling requirements in comparison to commercial aviation. The essence of this segment demands a tailored service depending on the aircraft, time on ground, destination, and number of passengers. Handling can be separated into two segments or types of services.
There are above-wing services, which support the crew and passengers with customs and immigration in an FBO, hotel arrangements and ground transportation to the hotel, and in-flight catering. All the previous is tailored depending on the aircraft size and route, which determines the type of crew and number of passengers, the catering requirements, and the duration of the pre-departure process.
The other type of service, called below-wing, includes all the amenities that surround the aircraft. Fueling coordination, hangarage if needed, the delivery of the Ground Support Equipment (GSE), baggage handling, lavatory and water services, stairs when required and ground power units, within others. This type of service is standard for almost any aircraft, private or commercial, while the above-wing services are reserved for business aviation.
“The exclusive clientele we both serve expect professionalism and privacy for their travel arrangements. A good FBO will facilitate the necessary services for a seamless transition towards the on-board experience. By working together, we ensure success for everyone, and most importantly, our customer”, concluded Patel.