Flying à la PRIVÉE

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Sydney, Feb 4: Navair is an Australian luxury private aircraft company, providing travel solutions to businesses, entrepreneurs, and high net worth individuals around Australia. It prides itself on its uncompromising personal service, safety, discretion and reliability. Led by general manager and chief pilot Rick Pegus, Navair’s extensive fleet of private charter jets, helicopters, pistons, and turboprops can fly to and from most airports in Australia and around the world.
To date the airline has an impeccable safety record, and all aircrafts are maintained to the highest of standards.
Pegus who is also the owner of Navair completed his commercial piloting licence in 1998 while serving in the Royal Australian Air Force. Two years later, in 2000 he became a flying instructor at BASAIR, the largest flying college in Australia.
In 2007, Pegus and a business partner started their first charter brokerage business, Skypac, with contracts including NSW Police, the Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia and NSW Health. He acquired Navair in 2015 and took over as chief pilot in 2019. In this exclusive interview with DailyStraits.com, Pegus dispels some of the myths that people may have on private flying. Without further ado, let’s read the interview with Pegus below:

Navair owner and operator Rick Pegus. Image supplied.

Tell us everything about Navair.

Navair was established over 40 years ago. My wife and I bought the business for the hangar in 2015 and merged our previous charter businesses into the Navair business. We then commenced the Air Operator Certificate for Navair in 2018. We currently have six aircrafts available for charter, four of those are based at our Hangar in Bankstown – a Cessna Citation Mustang, 2 x Embraer Phenom 100 and an Embraer Phenom 300. We also have another two Mustangs that we use for charter based in Brisbane and Melbourne respectively. We currently have six full-time employees, and six contractors, ten in total are pilots. We are not seeking investment opportunities currently.

How does one book a ticket with Navair and what happens if the customer wants to cancel?

Customers usually book directly through us – via email or over the phone. We also receive bookings through charter operators. We don’t have many cancellations, but if we do, it is reviewed by us depending on the circumstances. For example, if a passenger wants to cancel as they have contracted COVID, then we will refund the customer as long as we haven’t had to reposition our aircraft. Repositioning means we have had to have flown our aircraft away from our base to pick up a passenger, which involves costs due to fuel and airport fees. If our aircraft has not departed yet to reposition, then the passenger will be refunded. We also do allow people to reschedule, so their 20 per cent deposit will be used for their next booking. We need to be informed of rescheduling 48 hours beforehand in order for the passenger to not lose their deposit.  As for insurance all our passengers are covered by the carrier liability insurance we have and don’t have to pay extra for it. 

How many people can each flight seat and are your customers usually a mix bag of several individuals unknown to each other or family and friends travelling together?

We never mix clients from separate bookings on our flights. When you charter with us, we guarantee that the aircraft is exclusive to you and any passengers you are bringing along. Our clientele is varied, either travelling by themselves, with business associates or their family and friends. Our passenger capacity ranges from a four-seater jet to an eight-seater jet. Sometimes clients might charter two jets simultaneously if their group exceeds eight people, or we broker out a job to another operator who has a jet that can take larger groups.

Where does Navair fly to?

Our most popular domestic routes from Sydney include Melbourne, Ballina, Gold Coast, Hamilton Island, and routes to various regional towns. We can pretty much fly to any airport in Australia, as long as there is a runway that is suitable for our fleet. Internationally, we can fly to New Zealand, Fiji, New Caledonia and Vanuatu non-stop on our Phenom 300.

Let’s talk about costs, what’s involved?

When charting a jet, you pay for the entire jet, not per person so, in a sense, the more people you have – the less it costs. For example, Sydney to the Gold Coast on our Citation Mustang which seats four passengers is approximately AU$10,000 to charter. On the other hand, our Phenom 300 which seats eight passengers is approximately AU$14,000 to charter. As you can see, it’s cheaper per person when you have more people. As for children travelling, an infant can sit on an adult’s lap but children over 25kg require their own seat.

Navair flight lounge. Image supplied.

Due to the pandemic how many rescue flights has Navair done to date?

We have completed about 20 rescue flights. The majority of those flights were to New Zealand, and a handful were done in New Zealand and Hong Kong.

Did your business suffer during the pandemic?

The business’ revenue has doubled since the start of the pandemic. This can also be owed to us having great product, as we have the most modern light jet fleet in Australia. Our amazing product offering has helped us increase our market share and allowed us to better tap into the market of those wanting to travel private and avoid commercial airlines.

Do private aircraft companies only cater to the rich and famous?

No, private jet charter is not just for the rich and famous. During the pandemic, we have chartered for more ‘joes and janes’, as they could not get a commercial flight to wherever they needed to go and were willing to pay a premium to get there. I also think the rise in demand is due to more people wanting to travel and experience exciting things now that lockdowns are over. We are now seeing passengers chartering with us who have never considered travelling private before, but they now want to treat themselves.

With commercial airlines, before we take off, we get a safety check demo by the steward or stewardess. Is this the case with private airlines?

Our pilots demonstrate a safety briefing and similarly to airlines, we have flight safety brochures.

Let’s talk about food, how is the food served on private airlines?

Most of the time, our flights are short haul, so people don’t require a meal. We do, however, always have a selection of beverages and snacks onboard free of charge. Customers can request catering if they would like a substantial meal, but it comes at an extra cost. We always cater to customers’ dietary requirements, which they usually inform us of before their flight.

How often does Navair planes undergo safety checks?

Our jets go through the same safety and maintenance checks that the airlines go through. We similarly have A, B, C and D checks. Our planes can be on the ground for a few days at a time if it’s a major maintenance job.

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