MJets aims to serve region within 2 years
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MJets aims to serve region within 2 years

Mr Heinecke believes there is an opportunity for the sector.
Mr Heinecke believes there is an opportunity for the sector.

Operators of private jet services have posted robust growth based on consistent demand from wealthy individuals and private companies in Asia, prompting MJets, a private jet operator in Thailand, to plan an expansion covering all Southeast Asian countries by 2026.

"Private aviation is one of the fastest growing segments in the world," said William Heinecke, co-owner and director of MJets.

Mr Heinecke said there is an opportunity for the sector, not only from wealthy individuals in Southeast Asia and China, but also a rapidly growing number of private companies in the region seeking a private jet service for meetings and other business activities.

He said while most commercial airlines halted operations during the pandemic, MJets maintained its pilots and flight attendants, allowing it to rebound quickly.

Despite the high cost of fuel, Mr Heinecke said the carrier's clients had not been particularly affected due to their high level of purchasing power, while the cost of fuel for private jets wasn't particularly high when compared with fuel for other commercial aircraft.

While the government has set an ambitious goal for Thailand to become an aviation hub, Mr Heinecke said the private aviation segment could help boost tourism and the corporate segment.

According to market research organisation Mordor Intelligence, the market value of the private jet and general aviation market in Southeast Asia is expected to reach US$906 million by 2029, up from $463 million this year.

Natthapatr Sibunruang, chief executive of MJets, said demand for private jet services has been growing and would continue over the next 5-10 years with more private jets in Southeast Asia.

MJets owns five private jets that operate short-range flights ranging from two hours to 13-14 hours in duration.

He said the company will acquire two more aircraft this year to replace its two existing Cessna Citation Bravo jets that operate flights of 2-3 hours in duration.

He said the carrier's average utilisation rate has already exceeded Southeast Asia's average rate of 300 hours per year, and there is still room for the rate to grow.

Over 55% of the company's revenue was derived from private jet charter services, 30% came from ground handling, while the remainder came from other services.

A majority of the carrier's customers are corporate travellers, with only 10% of clients booking a private jet for the purpose of lifestyle and travel.

However, there is also growth in the blended business and leisure segment, Mr Natthapatr said.

MJets announced an investment of S$17 million (around 460 million baht) to acquire a minority stake in WingsOverAsia, a Singaporean private jet service provider.

Mr Natthapatr said this collaboration would help MJets maintain double-digit growth.

In Thailand, MJets plans to continue investing in its own hub, a fixed-base operator facility at Don Mueang airport.

He said even though a new seaplane operator would enter the sector, MJets would feel little impact as seaplanes tend to serve specific runways that private jets are unable to reach, such as airports with short runways, distant islands or those built on a waterway.

MJets would be able to gain revenue from the seaplane business by providing aircraft maintenance and brokerage services for renowned brands such as Cessna and Textron.

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