With Executive and Heads of State Lounges, Larnaca-based Skylink Services operates a thriving Cyprus FBO
Skylink Services operates the only Cypriot FBO, at Larnaca, with a 1,600m2 Executive Terminal accommodating up to 80 passengers, alongside a 400m2 Heads of State Lounge, run on behalf of the Republic of Cyprus. The company’s reach extends across the island to Paphos, but here it offers only executive aircraft handling, with no lounge facilities.
Established in 1998, the Larnaca facility has become a leader in the region, begging the question as to why Skylink Services has yet to open a Paphos FBO. Managing Director George Mavros explains: “The original decision to operate an FBO in Larnaca and not to expand our presence at Paphos was driven by the number of flights. For executive aircraft, Paphos has always been an alternative airport. There are no ministries or governmental offices nearby, so it mainly serves passengers holidaying in Paphos. But we’re now in negotiations with the government and airport authorities to establish a smaller unit there.”
With business increasing steadily year on year, the Executive Terminal was opened in 2009. Skylink’s confidence as traffic grew was bolstered through official assistance as “…the government put its trust in our services and authorised the terminal as an entry and exit point to the Republic of Cyprus.”
Meanwhile, the Larnaca operation supports aircraft from 426 executive, private and military operators worldwide. It makes for a varied customer base: “Some have fleets exceeding 30 aircraft, while the private operators may have only one or two. We’re also listed by 90% of flight planning companies, with customer databases reaching thousands of commercial and non-commercial customers.”
Skylink Services is proud of its ability to handle everything from the smallest executive jet up to a Boeing 747 or Airbus A380 VVIP aircraft, although Mavros reckons size is largely unimportant: “The ground handling infrastructure for a Learjet or a 747 doesn’t change dramatically since the procedures are similar, the only thing that’s different is the equipment. Our staff are trained to deal with all aircraft types and cater for the needs of every customer.”
The Heads Of State Lounge is something Mavros is clearly very proud of and the company notes on its website how previous visitors have included His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI in 2010, while the lounge was used extensively during when the Republic of Cyprus held the rotating EU Presidency in 2012. “It offers three separate rooms, the Presidential Lounge, a space for the presidential delegation and a security lounge for the presidential security detail, including full interior and exterior CCTV access. The Heads of State Lounge also has a podium and live link for TV transmissions.”
It might be easy for this important component of the Skylink package to take precedence, but Mavros insists: “Skylink offers all its customers the heads-of-state treatment. We start with the red carpet at the steps of the aircraft and offer a fleet of executive vehicles, including the Mercedes S-Class, BMW 7 Series and Mercedes Viano, in executive configuration, to transport them to the Executive Terminal.”
Skylink is looking with considerable optimism towards the future, a bold outlook given the instability and conflict in the Middle East and North Africa. Cyprus has also seen its fair share of refugees chancing the perilous voyage across the Mediterranean, while coalition forces use the military base at Akrotiri intensively for ongoing combat operations. All things considered then, aren’t these tricky times for a Cypriot FBO? Not according to Mavros: “We’ve had no disruption to our operations owing to tensions in the region. If anything we’ve had an increase of traffic from aircraft repositioning here from neighbouring countries for security reasons.
“Our staff and management pride themselves in providing the most efficient service, guaranteeing discretion and treating information gathered from our operators, passengers and head’s of state with confidentiality. I believe that’s the main reason our customers prefer us.”