Monterrey FBO Focuses on PilotsFri, 12/01/2017 - 09:16
Monterrey calls itself the industrial capital of Mexico, an important business center from which high-level executives travel. Some prefer to travel by plane than driving three hours to the border and these customers expect personalized attention and around-the-clock service. Owner-pilots flying for pleasure expect the same service as corporate passengers, however, and this is just the niche that Avianet serves with its FBO.
Avianet focuses on providing coordination services for aircraft and pilot crews rather than passengers whose needs are catered to by other companies at the airport. “Our market niche is different to others in the sector as most of our clients are owner-pilots who use the aircraft mostly for pleasure trips,” says Xavier Cabello, Director General of Avianet.
Operating out of Del Norte International Airport (ADN), the only airport dedicated exclusively to general aviation, offers advantages for private users. These include increased security and a complete service system for private aircraft, including air taxis, FBOs and MROs. The airport also constantly renovates its terminal, landing track, signage and control tower. Cabello has 45 years of experience in the sector and has seen the airport grow in both flights and hangars.
The FBO mostly works with small and medium-sized aircraft, like Pipers and Cessnas, which are popular in the region as they are small enough to land on users’ estates in the city suburbs. Clients also use them to visit cities just across the US border, including McAllen, San Antonio and Brownsville. “Our clients are partisan to the Cessna 206, a versatile airplane that adapts to their operations,” says Cabello.
The company’s clients include major corporations, such as Home Depot, Coca Cola and Johnson Controls. Avianet also works closely with International Cargo and Corporate Services (ICCS), this company has a partnership with Air Routing International, one of the largest handling companies for corporate aircraft in the world.
Due to the nature of its business, the shaky US-Mexico relationship heavily impacted Avianet. In 2017, the company got off to a slow start as many businesses were uncertain of the policies that the US would take and how those policies would affect them. “For us, the impact of President Trump taking office was noteworthy,” says Cabello. “In previous years we usually received two aircraft per week, but this year we had only received three in the first quarter of 2017. The situation began to turn around approaching the Easter break with an influx of aircraft, which we believe also marks a turnaround for the industry.”
Cabello also reports a reduction in traffic to the US border from the beginning of the year, caused by unfavorable exchange rates for those buying dollars and fear surrounding the treatment awaiting Mexican visitors to the US. ¨These claims are unfounded,¨ says Cabello. “As far as we have seen, Mexicans are not treated poorly at the US border despite news and radio reports scaring off travelers. But the effects of this perception ripple through the sector.” The exchange rate has also impacted the FBO’s maintenance center. “We imported an engine at the beginning of the year and import taxes amounted to MX$196,000. Importing the exact same engine in April saw import taxes of only MX$140,000.”
Relationships between both countries are still strong, fortunately. Cabello says investment will continue to flow into the country. In fact, many private owners are taking advantage of cross-border fluidity to streamline aircraft acquisition and handling. Many aircraft flying into ADN operate with foreign registration plates, about 50 percent of them in Cabello’s estimation. This is because Mexican aircraft operating under a US regulation fall into a regulatory loophole. “Mexican regulations are the same as those in the US but the process here is convoluted, slow and centralized in Mexico City, so it is often easier for aircraft owners to operate under US plates,” says Cabello. He believes that the situation will change. “Most Mexican aircraft owners are willing to comply with regulations and only dislike the long and complex paperwork they have to provide,” he says.