We’re honoured to talk to Mr Bernhard Fragner, CEO and Founder of GlobeAir, Europe’s number one private jet charter. The company doesn’t only provide private jet charters, but also on-demand transfers upon arrival and many other concierge services such as bookings at restaurants, hotels, or events. Mr Fragner is here to tell us all about it and also to discuss his company’s relationship with Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN.
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Mr Fragner, what is the general situation at GlobeAir today, and what does the company focus on most at this moment?
GlobeAir’s priority is to ensure the highest health and safety standards at the moment. Meaning all pilots and office employees stay healthy, together with our passengers on board. GlobeAir is taking the highest precautions against contamination in the headquarters, with the crew and for the passengers thorough strict disinfection measures and guidelines.
The designated COVID-19 crisis team at GlobeAir has been appointed to monitor all news and restrictions hour by hour. The team maintains constant internal communication and shares its knowledge with the objective to mitigate uncertainties and insecurities of the entire #DreamTeam.
The company is confident that after the first months of the crisis, private jet charters are now the first ones to be fully operational again after all of the major commercial airlines have been grounded indefinitely. Travellers and second-home owners are finally allowed to re-enter many of the European countries, which have been on lockdown following the COVID-19 pandemic.
With less than 20 touchpoints – from the way to the airport until the reach of destination – compared to the 700 which occur on commercial airlines, and with 100% fresh air at any point in time, flying on a private jet is amongst the safest means of travel. We aim to get our passengers safely to the airport without having to worry about risking an infection.
And how has the pandemic affected your business? How were you dealing with the changes?
As much as operations at GlobeAir have been seriously impacted during the ongoing crisis, we have decided to remain operative in the first months, offering our bespoke private jet services to those who are unable to avoid travelling nowadays; the transport of expatriates, travellers stuck abroad, medical staff and cargo, embassies, organs, and blood reserves being top of the list.
The initial growth of 27% YOY in private jet bookings registered at the beginning of the crisis in March, was followed by a dramatic plummeting of requests, signalling a drop of 34% in unscheduled flights (Source: EBAA). Many success stories, however, have been reinforcing the notion that business aviation plays a crucial role in our society. GlobeAir alone has contributed to help families reunite by flying children of divorced couples from one country to another. As well as this, solo pet flights have increased with families looking forward to welcoming their new puppies at home regardless of the crisis or ensuring that they could spend their lockdown months together with their four-legged friends.
The team has shown high resilience in tackling entry barriers in many European countries as well as private jet terminal restrictions. Those sudden impediments have disrupted the way GlobeAir has been conducting its operations for more than ten years now, hence the need to implement six fast risk-mitigating measures. The measures have been put forward and carried out by GlobeAir’s dedicated COVID-19 crisis team and are followed strictly by the entire company.
I am grateful to be able to do every day what I love and to have the chance to occasionally sit in the cockpit.
Tell us about the fun factor of your work, Mr Fragner.
We are a #DreamTeam – working together with 32 different nationalities, more than only the fun factor is assured. As of today, the team consists of highly skilled pilots, office employees & managers, maintenance, and training personnel. A team is a complex unit coordinated by strong IT infrastructures and effortful dedication. This is an excellent example of a well-functioning international team with a motivated crew and a team of knowledgeable business and operations experts turning – my personal mantra – “passion into the profession” every day.
I am grateful to be able to do every day what I love and to have the chance to occasionally sit in the cockpit. Every passionate pilot will assure you that the feeling of flying will never change. I love to fly and to work today the same way I did back in 2007. We work in a very dynamic environment that brings into account being flexible, fast, and efficient. The field of business aviation and our customer group require lots of creativity and innovation to build a successful brand that will last. Thus every day I learn something new and look forward to work with my #DreamTeam towards innovative solutions.
How is the partnership with Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN going?
The partnership with Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN Formula 1 team is a mutually beneficial partnership: each partner takes a proactive interest in the other company, we work together to bring about shared success. GlobeAir supports the team in optimising their logistics within Europe. We share very similar values, like performance, safety and the concept to be best in class. Frédéric Vasseur, Team Principal, stated: “We are pleased to welcome GlobeAir as a new Official Partner. In Formula 1, it is essential to ensure the efficient and speedy transportation of our personnel. By providing on-demand tailored solutions for air travel, GlobeAir is a partner that can support us in optimizing our processes. We look forward to this collaboration.”
— GlobeAir (@GlobeAir) November 17, 2020
So anyone familiar with Formula 1 knows the logistical challenges that the international racing series face. Throughout the year, people, materials, and machines are on the road from race to race and country to country covering thousands of kilometres. Formula 1 teams regularly invest time, money, and enormous efforts in order for this process to function smoothly.
After months of uncertainties, Formula 1 started again inaugurating the season in Spielberg for the 2020 Austrian GP. Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN has eight confirmed races starting that started in Austria and is finishing in Monza with the Italian GP on September 6th). Thus the team relies on GlobeAir to ensure they reach their destinations fast and safe. Time is key; transporting people and materials as time-effectively, safely, and comfortably as possible, is part of GlobeAir’s commitment.
How would you convince other companies like yours to start business relationships with Formula 1 teams?
Ideally, each partner will have skills which “compliment” the skills of the other partner. When developing a successful partnership with Formula 1 teams, it is essential that the partners share common standards. Like the Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN F1 Team, GlobeAir is a team of hard-working people driven by passion. Daily, we dedicate our working life to optimise the company’s performances and bring GlobeAir to the next level. That’s where our common vision lies and is why we are very pleased about this partnership.
Besides learning from each other, there are other benefits like exclusive access to the Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN Factory & Wind Tunnel in Hinwil, exclusive passes to the Paddock together with sharing the network.
How does Formula 1 look to you right now as a business industry?
When the magnitude of the coronavirus pandemic became clear and Formula 1 finally decided to postpone the season on the eve of the opening race, the world of esports was quick to step in to offer an alternative. With 22 million viewers having tuned into the virtual races, the temporary switch to esports has proved to be a huge success. The industry was already growing in scope and popularity before it took to the main stage over the last few months and many believe that this period will only serve to enhance its growth further.
As for Formula 1 as an industry, it will stay competitive, but with adaptations to the new world of work through COVID-19. There are regular check-ups for Formula 1’s personnel, especially the drivers. And they have to get used to working in a bubbled environment. This industry provides a huge amount of jobs linked to the motorsport industry and billions of revenue. Also, the government wants to ensure the interest of fans is not hampered. They want them to enjoy the game with protected jobs and incomes flowing.
Ideally, each partner will have skills which “compliment” the skills of the other partner. When developing a successful partnership with Formula 1 teams, it is essential that the partners share common standards.
Any near-future plans for GlobeAir?
As Europe’s leading private jet charter in the very light jet (VLJ) segment, we aim to stay in this position and to grow in the area of business aviation. We want to reach more customers with being the right choice for the most efficient and safe means of travel during the pandemic. Additionally, we are expanding in the luxury tourism industry foreseeing the strategic importance of this sector. With an exclusive programme for premium design trips tailored to the end customer, we are eager to present our strength as an all-round service provider.
While the COVID-19 pandemic threatens our daily lives and forces us to change our behaviour, we find ourselves needing to adapt to various operational processes. As mentioned before, our number one priority is on Safety First. We are ready to satisfy all challenging incoming flight inquiries as well as the highest health and safety standards for our #DreamTeam, passengers and partners.
With many commercial airlines still being grounded, we clearly can see that we offer the best alternative to reach the desired destinations safely, fast and in comfort. Every team member is convinced that this severe crisis we are facing right now, also comes with opportunities. We have seen this already back in 2008 and 2009 when the Lehmann issues triggered a global financial crisis with severe impact on the worldwide economy. In such a period we are driven to invest smartly and anti-cyclically. Our concept is to invest in the #DreamTeam, training, marketing, smart IT Solutions and eventually in assets – which could be additional aircraft – to expand our fleet. However, not only with the same aircraft types, we already operate but also considering other platforms which are appreciated by our customer base.