Laitat redefines ’boutique’ with JetHouse venture

Herve Laitat is relishing the freedom of his new adventure with JetHouse.

Herve Laitat is relishing the freedom of his new adventure with JetHouse.

The French have a good word for it: galvaudé. It means cliched, and Herve Laitat throws it out when using the word “boutique” to describe his new JetHouse business.

The problem, he says, is “boutique” is bandied around too often, but in his case he really means it.

“Everyone says boutique, but you cannot be boutique when you have 25 or 30 planes, because the management are lost in board meetings and travelling all the time,” he says.

Instead, Belgian Laitat, who was previously the CEO and accountable manager of Abelag/Luxaviation Belgium, intends to cap his fleet at 15.

“My goal is not fleet size,” he says. “Of course, we will be profitable. It’s not a goal to lose money. But my biggest pride is that at Abelag very few owners left. Some of them, I was operating their fourth successive plane. So if you have that as a passion, you can make a living quite decently.”

Fulfil promises

JetHouse, which is registered in Malta, launched with a Dassault Falcon 7X in Brussels in early 2024 and Laitat plans to add another aircraft “every six to nine months”.

“I have good confidence that they will come,” says Laitat, who oversaw a fleet of 25 aircraft at Abelag. The 15 is “not a magic number”, he adds, but about the level where he and his senior team of eight, with about 175 years’ collective experience in the business, can provide a “boutique” service. Alongside Laitat as founders are Nicolas Willemot, the CFO, and Tina Boeckx, director of flight operations, both also formerly of Abelag.

“It becomes difficult to fulfil promises because it’s always the founder or the CFO, who at some point met an owner and said, ‘OK, we’re going to pamper you’. But when it’s too big, the person feels you don’t follow them in the same way. So it’s really a matter of time that is driving this number in the fleet.

“We don’t like to disappoint. Of course, sometimes, even the bad weather is your fault but having a client who sends you a handwritten note saying, ‘I’m so happy to have joined you’. It’s what we have in our blood.”

Passion for service

JetHouse’s natural market is Europe, the Middle East and “why not some French-speaking countries in Africa” but Laitat is not planning to expand for the sake of it.

“If someone was really begging to operate now out of Bermuda, I’m not sure I’m the right person,” he says.

Laitat was at Abelag for nearly 20 years, including for the acquisition by Luxaviation in 2013 and the purchase of ExecuJet in 2015, but left in 2021 with Willemot following closely behind.

“Let’s say that it became so big,” he says. “It’s not a criticism, it’s just a fact, it suits you or not.”

He quickly took up running AllianceJet in Malta, but the tide was pushing him towards setting up on his own and in May last year he took the plunge. Knowing he needed his team in place before he could meet with Transport Malta to apply for the AOC, he began ringing around trusted former colleagues and a number left jobs to join him. Laitat also partnered with Fiona Healy, MD, FCF Assets who “delivered impeccable guidance on all the steps needed to expedite the AOC”. The licence was signed off in seven months in February 2024.

“I wanted to have something with an amazing team, and be able to do something without any obstacles, with this passion for service,” he says. 

“The beauty of starting from scratch is we had the possibility to use these new technologies that have flourished in recent years that are all integrated. It is efficient and helps everyone.”


A lack of transparency is one of Laitat’s bugbears in the industry and he is determined to operate differently at JetHouse.

“The way to keep the loyalty of clients is to always be able to look at yourself in the mirror,” he says. “It’s a small world and in the end, the cost of changing an owner or having plus three aircraft one year, but minus four the next, it’s not efficient.

“Of course, there are very few clients and it’s a tough business. Sometimes just to reach for a coffee with an owner, it’s the work of nine or 12 months.”

Building trust with a client leads to a “fantastic adventure for a long time”, he adds.

Laitat admits that being an entrepreneur doesn’t always come naturally but he is relishing a new adventure with JetHouse. 

“Some people are born entrepreneurs, some have to be entrepreneurs by the events of life, you know? But it’s quite fantastic to have this freedom,” he says.