Ready for Anything

posted on 23rd June 2020
Ready for Anything

Euro Jet provides support services throughout Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Central Asia. Busily adapting to and working through the COVID crisis, the company is looking forward to further expansion

Managing a large team from its Prague headquarters, Euro Jet is no stranger to remote working. Nonetheless, when COVID-19 disrupted just about every plan for every article in this summer 2020 edition, it was typical of the company’s can-do, will-do attitude that Director of Global Sales and Marketing Gareth Danker took the reins and coordinated his colleagues’ responses to the editor’s questions.

Euro Jet specialises in providing support to VIP and business aircraft operations, but also has expertise in airline, cargo and military flying. In fact, it offers an unfathomably broad range of capability, ranging from full-blown FBO down to individuals at remote airports. The organisation is arranged by location, as Danker and colleagues explain.

Euro Jet has ‘core’ and ‘global’ locations. How do they differ?
We have a direct presence in Central and Eastern Europe, as well as in the Middle East and Central Asia. We call airport locations in these regions ‘core’, since our own people are present, along with elements of our network of offices and crew lounges, usually in the general aviation terminal. At ‘global’ locations we offer support through a network of long-term partners.

How has the geographical distribution evolved? Even considering just the core locations, Euro Jet must have a large staff – how do you ensure consistent service standards across so many employees at multiple airports?
Yes, we have a large workforce! Euro Jet was founded in 2008, dedicated to providing ground support services throughout Central and Eastern Europe, and Asia. Since then, we’ve expanded throughout these regions as we’ve gained local knowledge and learned the specifics of each key airport. Unlike Western Europe and the US, there are very few FBOs, so we invest in people on the ground to coordinate our services; before Euro Jet, true VIP service was difficult or impossible to deliver.

Each core country has a Country Manager who oversees a team of Ground Service Coordinators. All our representatives are fully trained internally and have NATA Safety 1st certification. We also have continuous training and evaluation throughout the year, ensuring our teams are performing to the highest standards.

What infrastructure do you have?
Our ground support network contains 13 crew lounges and offices at Prague and Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic; Tirana, Albania; Sofia, Bulgaria; Dubrovnik and Zagreb, Croatia; Tivat, Montenegro; Warsaw, Poland; Bucharest and Constanta, Romania; Belgrade, Serbia; Poprad, Slovakia; and Kiev, Ukraine. Since it houses our headquarters and main base, at Prague’s Vaclav Havel Airport we have a full FBO, cars for crew and passenger transport, a heated hangar and ground handling equipment.

An internal app seems very important to Euro Jet’s operations. How does it work?
A smartphone-based tool used by our ground coordinators in every location, the app helps keep track of aircraft movements and services provided. For instance, when an aircraft lands, taxis and as the door opens, our representatives tap a button on the app, time-stamping each event. The time stamp is immediately visible at our Prague operations control centre and available to the customer, keeping them constantly updated. Personnel on the ground continue tracking other events, including catering being delivered, crew and passengers departing and returning to the aircraft, and its eventual departure, in just the same way.

You offer a bewildering array of ground services. Are they delivered by Euro Jet personnel, or do your representatives arrange them through their knowledge of local companies and regulations? What do you expect of your obviously talented people?
Euro Jet Ground Service Coordinators in our core territory supervise all operations, with most services delivered by local partners. Our people have profound knowledge of their airport, and at some locations we also offer a crew lounge, an office or ramp cars.

The vast majority of our staff are highly experienced aviation professionals and most have been with us many years. As a minimum, all speak fluent English as well as the language of the country where they are based. Long-term partnerships with vendors outside our core territory means we can guarantee similarly high levels of service globally.

You handle executive and VIP aircraft, cargo, airliners and military aircraft, all of them with quite different, exacting demands on ground services. How do you satisfy them all?
We oversee more than 10,000 operations every year and our agents have experience supporting all kinds of flights, even though each is unique. The teams at different locations are in frequent contact, sharing knowledge, expertise and best practices.

We’ve also built extensive experience supporting diplomatic flights for summits, conferences and the rotating EU presidency, which generates increased diplomatic traffic. And we’ve supported flights for sporting events, including the Ice Hockey World Championships and UEFA European Championships.

What types of job do your representatives most often handle?
The most common jobs are also among the most important – ensuring crew and passengers pass through security as quickly as possible, getting them to the aircraft, making sure their catering is delivered and that special requests have been taken care of before departure.

What’s the most unusual job you’ve done?
Nothing is really unusual because we’re always ready for anything. We did once babysit a set of eagles though. We’ve also returned lost wedding rings, driven around town looking for a specific type of drink, and gone to hotels in the middle of the night to load hundreds of bags because our customer was short staffed.

Euro Jet also specialises in supporting aircraft delivery flights. It seems an unusual capability – does it mean you work closely with brokers and OEMs?
We work with all the major aircraft manufacturers and their representatives, and brokers, assisting aircraft movements for delivery, shows or other related activity. These flights tend to be less complicated because there is typically only the crew on board, although extra work is often required to help customers with new aircraft.

The Prague operations room is monitoring COVID-19 advisories and restrictions, and informing customers how they affect individual flights. How is coronavirus affecting your customers and your business?
We’ve been closely monitoring the situation since its beginning. We hadn’t seen significant change in the business until mid-March; as Europe became the epicentre of the pandemic, borders were closed and travel restrictions implemented. Our dedicated team of analysts immediately began collecting and updating data on travel limitations and restrictions, enabling our ops team to provide customers with up-to-date information and ensure operations continued successfully.

Euro Jet’s daily business has shifted with the evolving situation. We’ve seen a decline in business aviation, but increased our support of humanitarian, repatriation and cargo flights, and medical evacuations. Our unconditional priority remains the safety and health of our customers, partners and employees, so most of our office-based staff are working from home, while our Ground Service Coordinators out on the ramp are carefully following all recommended safety precautions. Once the situation improves and travel restrictions are lifted, we’ll be ready to quickly return to business as usual.

What’s Euro Jet’s plan for the future, once we’re through the worst?
Our vision is to continue developing the core locations where we have a direct presence and strengthening our partnerships throughout the global network. The company has expanded significantly over the past 12 years, but we remain focused on our ultimate goal of ensuring every customer becomes a long-term partner.