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ConnectJets Develops Surveillance Capabilities By Julian Nettlefold

BATTLESPACE Editor Julian Nettlefold met ConnectJets CEO Gabriella Somerville at ConnectJets’ London HQ

History of ConnectJets

It’s worth giving a background to ConnectJets history to show how the capabilities in civil aviation hire and lease can migrate to the specialist government surveillance market.

Gabriella has over 25 years’ experience in commercial and business aviation. Starting her career with Virgin Atlantic as Cabin Crew she was selected for the carrier’s prolific promotional team, hosting VIP inaugural flights to several US cities. She then moved to British Airways, working in a number of roles, ultimately Manager of Cabin Crew at Gatwick Airport.

“What triggered your passion for aviation?” The Editor asked.

“I have had an interest in aviation since my early childhood, my uncle was a member of the Red Arrows. The early sad death of my father was a turning point in my career and I decided that I needed to branch out on my own, so I sold a Swiss Chalet to provide the start up capital for ConnectJets.” Gabriella Somerville said.

Gabriella launched ConnectJets in 2009, introducing a fresh approach to the private jet market. ConnectJets employs client-focussed intelligence in all business aviation markets, offering bespoke private jet solutions maximising the buying power of travel budgets and private jet investments. With over 40 years aviation experience, ConnectJets offers independent, impartial market intelligence in securing the most viable business jet travel solutions for clients. The company provides a comprehensive range of private aviation products and solutions, and by understanding your unique travel requirements we can put together the best bespoke solution to fit your jet travel needs.

“In business aviation terms, we refer to private jet hire as on demand charter or simply charter. If your travel requirement is occasional or irregular, then private jet charter is the ideal option for you. Private Jet Charter allows you to fly anywhere in the world, on the aircraft of your choice, to your own schedule, and from the airport most convenient to you. With no membership fees, acquisition costs or monthly management fees, you get the ultimate in flexibility, efficiency and cost savings. In addition to our charter programme, we offer Private Jet Sharing and Private Jet Taxi, which, along with our charter Frequent Flyer Programmes, provide significant savings for those who fly regularly.” Gabriella Somerville said.

“How do you intend to establish ConnectJets in the government surveillance market?”

“We acquired the UK Agency for the Piaggio Avanti EVO two years ago. We are offering the aircraft to our civil customers for VIP transport in particular. In studying the specification and the aircraft’s ability for short takeoff and landing, we saw openings in other areas such as Airborne ISR and MEDEVAC; we have considerable interest from potential customers. We also saw a growing demand for Power-By-The Hour contracts particularly for border and maritime patrol. Using one of our key capabilities, we can tailor a requirement for such customers using the expertise we have gained in the civil charter and leasing market. Many governments are buying aircraft for airborne ISR requirements which ties up a lot of capital and resource when the job can be done just as well using a charter from a Company such as ConnectJets. We will offer rotary and fixed wing platforms to our customers or a mix.”

The Piaggio Avanti EVO

The Piaggio Avanti EVO blends the very best of Italian style, peerless craftsmanship, and intelligent thinking to create an aircraft that stands alone for its values. With greater range, faster climb, reduced fuel costs, a lower noise footprint, added safety systems, and a more luxurious cabin, Avanti EVO is yet another step forward. Its performance makes it fastest twin turboprop in the world, exceeding 400KTAS – faster than many jets and at a fraction of the direct running costs. Add to that a significantly improved service and support network, an innovative new maintenance program that can keep costs under control better than ever, and Avanti EVO stands alone for intelligence and elegance.

“When do you intend to launch this new service?”

“We hope to provide a briefing with Piaggio at the EBACE Air Show, we hope you can join us for a flight in the EVO where we will show you its capabilities!”

The Editor accepted with alacrity!

Gabriella Somerville is a candidate for BATTLESPACE Businessman of the Year 2017


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