The arrival of the Global Express at iXAir in 2015 marked a turning point in the history of the French company. This small revolution at the hexagonal scale allowed the operator to become in May 2019 the first French business aviation company to open offices in California to develop the North American market. Meeting with Robin Chavegrand, iXAir representative on the west coast of the United States.
After a significant development of the fleet in recent years, why have you decided to open an office in the United States?
Today, a company like iXAir needs to develop its clientele beyond its own country. The implementation of the Global has dramatically changed our customer base and after a market study, we have noticed an increase in requests for flights to and from the United States. It therefore seemed important, to develop the company on the spot, to establish a commercial representation on this vast territory and more precisely in California, in Van Nuys and Los Angeles. Since we started our activities there in mid-May 2019, the aircraft has already completed several missions.
Why Van Nuys and Los Angeles?
It is a strategic choice to approach a clientele coming mainly from the show business world and living around Los Angeles. Moreover, the San Francisco area, where the world’s leading technology companies are concentrated, is located less than an hour away from L.A. In addition to the presence of this potential clientele, the choice of California is also related to the performance of the aircraft. The Global is indeed one of the few aircraft able to fly direct to Paris from Van Nuys or Los Angeles, with 14 people on board. The Global is perfectly optimized for this route. For shorter flights, such as Paris-New York for example, we prefer using smaller, more economical aircraft.
Did this american market exist within iXAir prior to your California development?
We did have a commercial computer database. But we needed to develop this market. Our californian presence gives iXAir another dimension, as customers appreciate being able to talk directly to a local contact. This mark of additional confidence is indispensable.
Beyond the nationality, what makes your difference with a local actor, based in Los Angeles or Van Nuys?
From my office, requests for flights quotations are treated faster and without delay due to jet lag. Nevertheless, thanks to this jet lag, which allows an alternation between California and Paris, we are operational H24. This is undeniably a commercial force compared to local operators. However, the aircraft is based in Paris and it will remain so. Our goal is to develop our transatlantic service between the two sites and to be competitive in the US market. Operating costs in the US remain high and pooling resources from Europe allows us to sometimes offer lower rates than those charged in Los Angeles by our local competitors.
With one of the most competitive aircraft in the Los Angeles market, we can capture a new clientele. In addition, our US partners learn to know us and understand that they could benefit from our European expertise. We can offer them complete coverage from California to Paris and propose business flights continuity to the rest of Europe thanks to our fleet based in Le Bourget.
There is an enjoyable complementarity in the service.
What other services do you develop in parallel with those offered with the Global?
We are developing services for passengers who, flying airlines from the U.S. to Europe, want to continue their journey in Europe in a private jet.
We can welcome them upon their arrival in Paris and offer them to fly aboard one of our business jetst, to avoid the constraints of commercial airlines.
On the same principle, in California, we are studying different partnerships with local operators so that our customers arriving from France and Europe can continue their journey within the United States aboard a business jet.
On this point, have you started collaborations with commercial airlines to democratize this type of service?
Not for the moment but it is actually a track that is also studied, as it is a complementary service to the one we offer with the Global.
In addition to the commercial aspect, is your role to create a true iXAir subsidiary in the United States?
This is not relevant and we are not yet at this stage. First of all, we must analyze the relevance of our choices and, above all, continue to develop our customers network. For now iXAir is present in the United States and beyond the commercial aspect, our role is also to find local partners. It is therefore essential, not only to play the European operator card and to pool our resources with Paris, but also to forge lasting links with some local players.
Will the arrival of a second Global be considered in the short or medium term?
We think about it. More generally, some changes to our fleet will be announced soon. It is true that a second ultra-long range aircraft would allow us to offer a larger charter offer on this route.