Manuel Girault
General Manager
Universal Aviation Mexico
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Insight

Getting Bigger, Getting Better

Fri, 12/01/2017 - 09:10

Demand for private aviation services at Toluca International Airport (AIT) is growing and clients are asking for more and better services, according to Universal Aviation Mexico, which provides exclusive services ranging from aircraft storage to handling services and support.
“Toluca´s executive aviation sector will continue growing and improving,” says Manuel Girault, the company’s General Manager. According to Airports and Auxiliary Services (ASA), AIT was among the top 10 airports for domestic flight growth in 2016. That year, the airport handled a total of 9,066 flights according to DGAC. In just the first five months of 2017, total flights numbered 8,671, showcasing Toluca’s considerable growth. Of those flights, about 1,000 were international trips from and to the US.
Universal Aviation Mexico, created through a partnership with Avemex, is the local branch of Universal Weather and Aviation, an international FBO network that operates in 80 countries. The FBO provides services such as aircraft storage, customs and immigration coordination, fueling, transportation, catering and general flight support. “Mexico plays an important role for the company,” says Girault. In Toluca, the company has comprehensive services that include hangars, comfortable pilot and passenger day-rooms and air-traffic services such as catering and fuel. “There are only a few operations of this size in the world,” says Girault.
While its only FBO in Mexico is located at Toluca, Universal Aviation operates in more than 50 Mexican airports, servicing customers from Mexico and abroad. “Universal Aviation handles 30 percent of flights coming from the US to the city,” says Girault. “Eighty percent of our customers come from the US. They choose Universal Aviation Mexico for the quality service we offer. Our business follows procedures used all over the world to ensure safe operations. We have high standards for customer service and provide personalized treatment to every client. Our goal is to make travel easy for customers,” says Girault. He expects the number of foreign clients to increase because Mexico is a popular vacation destination for his foreign customers. “After October, tourism from the US will begin to rise as more US citizens come to Mexico to escape winter. The high season for locations such as Los Cabos, Cancun, Puerto Vallarta and Acapulco is from November to May,” he says.
As the aviation market gets stronger, the business environment gets more difficult. “The sector needs more rules, laws and instructions. Airports and governments need to adapt to new technologies that are affecting aircraft,” says Girault. Universal Aviation adheres to international safety standards through the implementation of Safety Management Systems (SMS), which require the adaptation of existing procedures to address all security regulations.
The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) describes SMS as products and services that integrate modern safety risk-management practices into automated systems. The goal, according to the agency, is to emphasize safety management as a fundamental business practice. A new regulation that is expected in the near future is the mandatory implementation of Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) Out equipment in all Mexican airplanes to make operations safer, says Girault. ADS-B Out-equipped aircraft transmit flight data continuously to track location and altitude. The implementation of this equipment can be accomplished by imposing flying regulations but Girault adds that these rules need to be faster and more dynamic.
One of Universal Aviation Mexico’s top goals is to maintain growth. The FBO wants develop a new, larger space to accommodate more passengers and will build a hangar to increase the company’s operational capacity. The plan calls for 5,000m2 of space with a capacity for 12 to 15 planes depending on their size. Construction will begin in October 2017 and is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2018. The hangar will be available to both national and foreign aircraft. Universal Aviation is also targeting growth outside Toluca but this requires an analysis of existing air traffic to see which areas are the best fit for its services. The company is analyzing several locations, including Monterrey, Guadalajara, Cancun and Los Cabos.