Elit’Avia expands into Asia, opens offices in Bangkok and Hong Kong
Slovenia-based business aircraft-management company Elit’Avia has opened two offices in Asia, as it looks to bring its European management expertise to the region.
Originally the company had been planning its eastwards expansion through its acquisition by Singapore-based operator OJets. But Nick Houseman, shareholder and board member of Elit’Avia, says that after looking carefully at the two companies, the company says that it decided to pull the deal.
“We realized that the synergies between OJets and Elit’Avia were not as expected. It was a difficult decision. But, we felt that it would be best for all concerned to halt the acquisition before going any further.” Said Houseman.
Although the deal fell through, Elit’Avia had always wanted to expand into Asia and had been looking into options for several years.
“We’ve been watching the Asian market for a while, the standards are getting higher and higher, and I think they are moving away from local operators.” Says Puja Mahajan, Elita’Avia’s CEO.
To start, the company has opened offices in Bangkok and Hong Kong, and has appointed Mark Thibault as the managing director of Elit’Avia Asia.
Before joining Elit’Avia Asia, Thibault had held several high-profile posts in the region, including the COO of Hongkong Jet and the CEO of Thailand-based Mjets Ltd. Based in Bangkok he will oversee the company’s expansion into the region.
Having people like Thibault, who has a deep understanding of the Asian market, based locally is how Mahajan sees as the best way of cracking the Asian market.
“They (Asian clients) want to have a mix of both. More of a European style approach when it comes to the management of the aircraft, but with Asian flight attendants — so a real mix” says Mahajan.
To get to this point, Elit’Avia had been studying the Asian market for a while and saw a lot of activity in south-east Asia, which helped drive the decision to open the Bangkok office. The company also saw a lot of activity on Indonesia and doesn’t rule out opening an office there in the near future.
“We know about the activity in China and Hong Kong. However what we are also seeing is that the number of transactions in South East Asia is really increasing. It’s not just Bangkok, its Jakarta and other cities as well. From a strategic point of view, we thought that to have one location in that part of the world as well as one in Hong Kong would make sense in the beginning.” Says Mahajan.
Whilst Bangkok will be a springboard into south-east Asia, Hong Kong will be used as a base to help leverage the Chinese market.
Hong Kong itself has more than its fair share of management companies, but Elit’Avia believes it has the experience to make it stand out from the other managers.
Mahajan says that many of the aircraft managers in the region are still in their infancy and says that Elit’Avia’s experience, along with its safety expertise and professionalism are some of the key reasons that she that the company will be successful in the region.
“Elit’Avia is really excited and we are ready to bring our brand to the Asian market,” says Mahajan.