Business aircraft and charter flight brokerage veteran Gabriella Somerville is launching a new venture aimed at making environmentally sustainable private aviation more readily available to customers who she believes are increasingly eager to embrace greener modes of transportation. The UK-based entrepreneur wants her new Connect Skies venture to forge a closer relationship between the established business aviation industry and companies introducing new electric aircraft and air taxi service models.
Initially, Connect Skies will focus on sales of existing aircraft that have relatively low carbon emissions and reduced fuel consumption. Somerville is in the process of negotiating an agreement to support an undisclosed U.S.-based company that is looking to introduce a new service based on both current fuel-efficient and electric aircraft. This company has expertise in the software needed to support the business model, and also with flight operations, but it is seeking help to select and acquire the right aircraft and develop its new program in Europe.
Somerville, who’s Connect Jet charter and aircraft sales business is in the process of establishing a partnership with Volanteus, told FutureFlight that the business aviation sector needs to be far more proactive in responding to rising demand for more environmentally friendly ways to fly, while also emphasizing the progress that has already been made in this regard. “The environmental rebellion, with naming and shaming of [private jet] users, is gaining momentum and it’s a shame that we’re still seen as a foe and not a friend,” she commented. “We need to show that we can be part of the solution and move forward, especially with attitudes shifting due to Covid.”
According to Somerville, the private aircraft sales model needs to differentiate itself more clearly, and focusing on environmental performance is the most relevant way to do this now. Connect Skies intends to focus on existing aircraft types such as the Piaggio Avanti Evo, the Pilatus PC-12, HondaJet, and the Phenom 300. Its new website will be live from September 14.
“In business aviation, we’ve got to know when the beginning and the ends [of market trends] are and be ready to divert for a change, of course, otherwise we’re just treading water,” she concluded. In her view, business aviation needs to fully embrace the technology now being advanced by pioneers of electric aircraft, and vice versa.