Aircraft: Global Reach

  • Fluto Shinzawa

Earlier this year, the pilot of a Houston company’s Gulfstream IV was waiting for his employer to leave an event at Washington’s John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts so that he could fly him to New York. As the employer left the Kennedy Center, he announced that his plans had changed and that he needed to fly to Buenos Aires immediately. “There’s no way a crew of two could put that together,” explains the pilot.

The pilot placed a call to UVglobal Network, a Houston company with a worldwide network of agents who manage every aspect of a corporate flight—arranging flight plans, gathering weather reports, re-fueling the jet, ushering travelers through customs, and making hotel and limousine reservations for when the plane touches down—as a concierge service for business travelers.

While the pilot prepared the G-IV for the flight, the UVglobal Network manager, who was fluent in Spanish, secured landing permits, sent weather reports to the pilot, arranged a 30-minute refueling stop in Mexico, and prepared for touchdown in Buenos Aires. The executive arrived in Argentina without delay— a nearly impossible feat had the crew been required to arrange the flight on its own. “It was all I could do to get the plane de-iced and fueled,” says the pilot.

UVglobal Network operates in 36 countries, and all of its local agents—citizens of their respective countries who are airline industry professionals—speak English. Cost of the service varies with the flight arrangements and the destination. “People have corporate airplanes to save time—so that they can go where they want, when they want,” says Lex den Herder, UVglobal Network senior manager. “This makes it much easier for them to do that.”

The fast-paced demands of corporate flight, says Brian Favaro, the chief pilot of a major U.S. oil company with three G-IV jets, make UVglobal Network valuable to his company. In the 1970s, when his employers made a handful of foreign trips each year, the flight crew enjoyed a three-month lead time to formulate their flight plans. Today, he might have only days or hours of advance notice, which can result in delays. “UVglobal Network knows where the weather office is. They know where the flight plan office is. They’ve got a guy with local knowledge who knows exactly which office to go to,” says Favaro, whose employers fly 60 to 80 hours each month. “They can get a flight plan refiled or a weather report resent. If there’s a catering request or a passenger request, these people know where to get it all done.”

Sometimes UVglobal Network goes even further. Favaro recalls an overseas flight to the Republic of Georgia, where an executive had a meeting in Senaki, on the west coast of the country, and then had to fly to Tbilisi, the Georgian capital. The G-IV’s crew needed to rest but couldn’t find a hotel in the area. So UVglobal Network’s local agent called his aunt and uncle, who lived nearby, and they hosted the crew for 10 hours. “I can’t imagine going aanywhere in the world,” says Favaro, “without this sort of service.”

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