Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Swift Aviation Completes A Giant Task; Eyes Fleet Growth

If someone asked me to name the winner of the Super Bowl – and told me I couldn’t Google the answer – I’d be hard-pressed to say who played whom or where the event was held (unless the Pittsburgh Steelers were involved). Please don’t judge me. I spent some rather formative years in Ireland and then moved to western Pennsylvania.

But even I admit I was impressed by some Super Bowl stats (and glossy pics) made available by Swift Aviation Group, a fixed based operator (FBO) with a luxury terminal at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.

Swift, which was the official FBO of the Super Bowl Host Committee last weekend, handled 455 aircraft and pumped over 280,000 gallons of Jet A fuel during this period. The company filled up all of the available parking space at its terminal as well as a special overflow area secured specifically for the Super Bowl (see pic to the right).

It was, by all accounts, a record for the company. In fact, it pretty much blew "the charts off on that", Swift Air VP of flight operations Michael White tells Runway Girl.

Okay, you ask: "What does all of this mean to me, a commerical air transport staffer, executive, enthusiast, avid Runway Girl reader (ahem)?" Well Swift’s charter airline, Swift Air, operates a fleet of 10 aircraft, including Cessna Citation and Embraer Legacy business jets and three 68-seat Boeing 737s (one former Icelandair bird and two ex-US Airways aircraft). It mainly flies for sports teams and corporations. And while Swift isn't interested in competing with scheduled carriers, it is eyeing fleet growth "and is looking at a handful of options right now", including more 737s, reveals White.

Should you be interested in chatting about these opportunities with Swift, you should know that the firm really hasn't looked outside of the 737 in terms of narrowbodies because it "likes the reliability", has a lot of experience with the type and "a lot of support with vendors and partners with that particular model", says White.

However, he adds: "We previously owned a 757 – we might look at that again at some point."

Very light jets might be on the horizon if a business case can be made. "We’re taking an optimistic view on that market until we make a determination. There is room for expansion but don’t know what our role will be at this point. [I'm] not sure that the model is mature enough to support it from a business perspective," says White.

Swift is also studying "other opportunities in other parts of the country"

All this action helps explain why the company recently announced it is one of the “few charter airlines in the country” to reach an agreement with the FAA to establish an aviation safety action program (ASAP), which encourages voluntary reporting of safety issues at airlines and maintenance centres.

“Participating in ASAP not only the right thing to do for our customers, it’s also a strategic business decision that we believe will set us apart from our competitors,” says White.

“In fact, we’re one of only a handful of companies to participate in all four areas of the program – pilots, maintenance, dispatch and flight attendants – even among the major commercial carriers.”

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