We are nearing the end of the year, which is a good time to look back on accomplishments and significant developments. This year marked another milestone in Jetcraft’s continued global expansion through the appointment of Danie Joubert as Vice President, Sales. Based in Johannesburg, Joubert represents Jetcraft in Africa, where he is responsible for all sales activities in the region.
Joubert recently shared some insights with SA Flyer magazine on the drivers and challenges facing the business aviation market in Africa.
Q: How have you seen the business aviation industry in Africa change since 2008?
A: Like all regions, Africa is not immune to the economic challenges faced by the business aviation industry, and government changes within some African nations as well as the downturn of commodity prices seemed to have the most impact. But what is true about Africa remains: The need for business aviation within the continent is critical. For customers who must traverse the continent frequently and on a specific schedule, they simply cannot do that with commercial flights. I remain confident that activity in Africa will remain healthy.
Q: Lack of robust infrastructure continues to be an issue for business aviation in some regions. Which regulatory hurdle do you see as the most significant to overcome in the African market?
A: Indeed, I am happy to see infrastructure developments happening in certain parts of Africa. Dedicated facilities for business aircraft are becoming more prevalent across the continent, and government leaders are more and more understanding that an improved aviation infrastructure will lead to economic growth in their respective countries. From a regulatory perspective, there is a need for a unified, continent-wide air traffic system, like that of Europe. There are more than 50 independent countries in Africa and each controls its respective airspace. That translates to the need for obtaining regulatory flight permits and approvals from all countries within a designated route. Imagine the logistics involved with a flight from Cape Town to Cairo. A uniform system and regulated but open airspace would be much more cost-effective and efficient.
Q: What types of aircraft are the most popular in Africa today?
A: Overall, the aircraft inventory mix in Africa is healthy. We see that generally government customers, and a select group of corporate customers with a need to reach Europe on a frequent basis, tend to favor long-haul aircraft the most. Corporate clients have specific aircraft requirements mostly tied directly to the scale and distribution of their business activities in Africa and we’re seeing more regional operators and corporations acquiring mid-size and smaller jets right now. Affordability and financing also has an impact on aircraft selections.
Q: What strengths does Jetcraft bring to the market?
A: Our customers are sophisticated and knowledgeable. They want to deal with a professional organization that delivers demonstrated value, proven expertise and transparency. Jetcraft has created a unique position within the industry, situated between a broker and a manufacturer. Our rich history, worldwide network and substantial inventory, industry connections and global presence stand apart from the rest. With 20+ offices worldwide, Jetcraft customers receive regional expertise in every critical locale along with access to inventory around the globe. Overall, Jetcraft is a true partner through the entire transaction process for a buyer or a seller, focused on finding the right aircraft, at the right price for our clients.
Q: What can you tell us about the future of business aviation in Africa?
A: Let me start by stating that our continent is special and, I believe, unique in various aspects. Business aviation requirements remain high in Africa, and I have no doubt the demand will continue to grow. I’m excited about the potential for the future. It is now up to us to contribute to this growth by structuring transactions in a smart, strategic way, addressing the customer’s true needs and requirements. We must act as an enabler and facilitate the entry of more business aircraft into the African market. Jetcraft, as a specialist and focused aircraft trading business, is uniquely qualified to do this.