Flying In Safe HandsFri, 12/01/2017 - 08:57
The executive aviation market in Toluca continues to grow, increasing competition and forcing businesses to adapt to an increasingly demanding clientele, says Maria Hinojosa, Director General of Mexican FBO Eolo Plus, which has launched its own training center focused on air and ground safety to meet the new challenges.
“The main challenge FBOs are facing is finding and retaining well-trained ground handling staff so they can keep providing the level of services that their high-profile clients demand,” says Hinojosa. Eolo provides charter, hangar space, rental offices, catering and fueling services at Toluca International Airport. The FBO’s training center has been in the making since 2016, says Hinojosa. “We believe in education. This is what our country needs and must be implemented right now.”
Eolo’s training program focuses on safety inside and outside the cabin, with clear adherence to Mexican and International regulation. In previous years, 100 percent of Eolo’s employee training was outsourced but now 80 percent is done in-house, says Hinojosa. One of the company’s future goals is to provide these education services to other operators and FBOs. The company sees this as a significant market opportunity. “Travel to the US has become more expensive and sometimes more difficult. As a result, many domestic operators, and even those from South America, prefer to train their staff in Mexico,” she says.
Beyond the training center, Eolo´s services evolved and diversified in 2016 as the company bolstered its international reputation. To become more attractive and increase its national and international market, Eolo allied with Jetex, an international handler and FBO chain. “Jetex has an excellent reputation in the sector because it seeks not just to comply with national and international regulations but to exceed in safety and quality. Working with Jetex is helping to boost Eolo’s business because it has high standards and very strict policies. Its quality is reflected in the company’s customer service,” says Hinojosa. She explains that sometimes customers are more familiar with international standards, which are more demanding than Mexican regulations. For that reason, the partnership has provided Eolo’s customers with a sense of familiarity that has allowed the company to retain them as frequent clients.
To maintain the quality of its services, Eolo has completed a series of certifications, such as the International Standard for Business Aircraft Operations (IS-BAO), WYVERN and WINGMAN. It is working to obtain the International Standard for Business Aircraft Handling (IS-BAH).
Eolo also provides base fueling and ground handling services, which is in demand for international operations. “With recent changes such as the Energy Reform, Mexico is gaining popularity as a business destination for many companies worldwide,” says Hinojosa.
The FBO has faced several challenges in Mexico’s current economy. The peso-dollar exchange rate has dropped around 15 percent since January 2017 although it is up in comparison to the previous year. “Under these circumstances, the most affected element of an FBO is the sale of services in advance at a fixed rate,” says Hinojosa. The company mitigates this risk by pricing all its services in dollars. “We do not give fixed rates in advance. Sometimes you can get compensated by the exchange rate but this industry normally operates in US dollars,” says Hinojosa.
Eolo is prioritizing security and good service over fleet expansion and also has high expectations for the company’s short-term growth at MMTO. Mexico is the second-biggest country for private aviation in the world after the US, according to Forbes, and 10 percent of these operations are clustered at MMTO, according to Milenio.
“2016 was a very important year for Eolo,” says Hinojosa. While the company grew thanks to its alliance with Jetex, “the main part of the success was the consolidation and restructuring of the company.” Expectations for 2017 are for 10 percent growth in revenues. The FBO also plans to improve security, compliance, profitability and service.