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Adding to the fleet.

Summary: NEW ROYAL JET CEO ROB DICASTRI TALKS TO WEALTH ABOUT THE LATEST BBJS TO HAVE JOINED HIS FLEET

What are the biggest developments of 2016 for Royal Jet?

The biggest thing right now is the delivery of these two new Boeing Business Jets (BBJs). The first one arrived in October, the second toward the end of November. These aircraft were ordered two years ago and were in outfitting for the past year. They are brand new BBJs with high-end technology in the cockpits and that's really a big exciting development for Royal Jet. One has a bluish interior one has a reddish interior, one's name is RJ Victor and the other is RJ Uniform.

The BBJ is a niche market. We are the largest operator of BBJs in the world. We had six before these came in and we are at eight now, and so this extends our lead in that sphere, but these are different. They have very high-end interior, and the designers have done a great job bringing that vision to life. They're not the typical wood and leather aircraft that you'd see. They're very modern--lots of carbon fibre involved.

Tell me more about these BBJs.

The roof is a honeycomb design with starry night sky, and you can change the color of the ceiling to your mood, or you can set it to rotate. It has high-end entertainment technology. They are two of the first two BBJs to have Ka band, faster than any other BBJ in terms of wireless connectivity. You can watch Netflix through this system which just was not possible before. In the cockpit they have the enhanced vision system, which lets the pilots see in heavy weather.

We're the first operator in the UAE to be licensed to use the EVS system, and it's great for pilots and great for safety.

The Ka band is super fast internet. Those are what the customers have been waiting for, now they are finally here. Customers want to fly on them right away, so they've been quite busy. They are something different. Many of our loyal customers have been flying with us for many years, enjoy our service and are very loyal to us, but to give them something different, something unique, it's been really satisfying to us.

How much feedback did you get from your customers in customising these new aircraft? We consulted with them about what they wanted to see as far as amenities and seating. There are 34 seats--which you usually don't see. There's a front bedroom, VVIP area, entourage area, good baggage compartment. We already have aircraft in our fleet with that type of configuration, and they are our most popular aircraft.

We wanted to change the look and the feel of them so it's not the same every time our customers fly. They have a choice now with four BBJs of effectively the same configuration, but different feels for each one. This keeps customers from getting tired of the exact same layout--we didn't want them to be the same. Configuration is what clients want to be consistent, but the look and the feel should change.

What have been your main priorities since joining Royal Jet? I just joined in August. I followed Royal Jet since I was in Saudi Arabia with NASJET, and I admired their work, but until you get in the company, you don't know the details. It's been a matter of taking all that we learned in that first few months, coming up with our strategy for next year and beyond, and, even if it's a bit cliche, we want to unlock the potential of the company.

I've been telling people that the days of ordering aircraft and hoping to have the level of business to justify them are behind us. You really have to work the other way around--have the business and then bring in the aircraft. We did that with these two BBJs--we have the demand, and we needed to refresh the fleet and satisfy our loyal customers.

We want to consolidate our position in the region as the premiere VVIP operator. That's our niche. We are Royal Jet, we have a royal pedigree--we know how to satisfy the VVIP customer. I think your typical company just starting up does not necessarily know that or have that background that can help satisfy them like we do--which is one of our differentiators. We want to consolidate to capture that customer, as we have the aircrafts built just for that. Whether that's about expanding the offerings and services we have or bringing in more to our fleet, that remains to be seen.

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Publication:Wealth
Article Type:Interview
Date:Jan 31, 2017
Words:796
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