Above and beyond in aviationMarch 18, 2021
Nuno Pereira, CEO of Bestfly, talks to The Energy Year about the company’s activities in meeting the aviation needs of Angola’s energy industry, its commitment to providing tailored services for clients and its approach to local content. Bestfly is an Angola-based aviation services company.
What services does Bestfly provide to the domestic energy industry?
In 2015, we signed our first oil and gas-related contract with a major oil company. Now we can proudly say that we are approved to fly for all of the major oil and gas companies that operate in Angola. In achieving this, there were no favours; nothing was taken for granted. It was done with due diligence, proper audits and hard work from our operational, maintenance, quality and safety teams. They worked tirelessly to provide the highest level of service. The best compliment we can receive is when one of our biggest clients tells us that we are a first-class operation.
Of course, before we sign any energy-related contract, we get audited. Bestfly is the most audited aviation company in this country. We go through between 12 and 15 audits a year.
However, we are much more than oil and gas. For the first six years of the company, from 2009 to 2015, we did not have a single oil and gas contract. Regardless, we grew 20% a year and we continued to grow 15-20% a year, even last year, without being oil and gas-related. We’re not dependent on a single source of revenue.
What are the different areas of operation under Bestfly?
The Bestfly group is divided into three different companies: Bestfly Flight Support, Bestfly Aircraft Management Angola and Bestfly World Wide, AVV. We have both an Angolan operator and an operator outside of Angola, as part of our international expansion. We also have a company that is Angolan-based for ground support. This involves ground handling, flight support and everything that an aircraft needs to fly.
How is the Bestfly fleet composed and what drove the decision behind your incorporation of two ATR aircraft in 2019?
The combined fleet of Bestfly is about 20 aircraft. This includes four helicopters and 16 fixed-wing aircraft.
In the past, we were a purely business aircraft company. Then, our customers presented the challenge of providing them with a reliable alternative for their air transportation needs. Bestfly then took on the risk and the investment of getting the commuter aircraft, the two ATR 72s. We are very happy with them as the ATR 72 is the most reliable and efficient in its category. Cost-wise for that segment, they are unbeatable. In terms of fuel consumption, you can carry 70 passengers at a time at a very low cost per mile and per seat. This allows us to make a difference in the service and price we offer.
What is the main challenge Bestfly faces as an Angolan air services provider?
There’s the perception that Angolans can’t do things right. We want to be known as the Angolan company that has proven everybody wrong. Angolans can do things properly, and we don’t need big funding from the government to provide good services.
What differentiates Bestfly from the competition?
When we make a decision, we’re doing it to succeed. That’s the positive attitude of Bestfly. We think like winners, and we do everything to make our client’s experience seamless. We go above and beyond to serve our clients’ needs. Our strategy is not to sell tickets – that’s not part of our core business. We are always looking to provide tailor-made solutions that fit the needs of our clients.
Those two ATRs came in especially to support the needs of our clients in the energy sector. I would say that the operation of the ATRs is 80% oil and gas-related, and 20% everything else. It’s not commercial. The ATRs now fly to Soyo, Cabinda, Namibe and Catumbela. We fly wherever there is a need for us. Our intention is not to compete against the scheduled airlines. We are there to support a niche that requires dedicated, tailored solutions. We serve the purposes of the client, and in my opinion that is the secret of the success of this company.
What was the company’s role in repatriation flights during the Covid-19 pandemic?
We were involved in 22 or 23 repatriation flights, with either our fleet or a subchartered fleet that we leased to support our clients. We did four flights to Houston, four or five to London, two to Abuja and several others to South Africa and Mozambique. When nobody else was flying, we were flying. We never stopped during the pandemic. Oil and gas still needed to be pumped out of the ground. Our aircraft were going where they were needed, and our helicopters were providing support by flying offshore, taking critical spare parts and passengers and mainly giving medevac support to our clients.
We geared up to do Covid-19 evacuations by acquiring specific equipment to protect both the patients and our crews, staff and medics. We have a partnership with a couple of medical providers that support us on that part of the business. We operate the planes and they supply us with the doctors to do the medevacs.
We had a 100% reliability rate over the past year. We did not have a single cancelation. Regardless of the challenges, we always found a solution.
Would it be true to say Bestfly found an opportunity within the crisis?
With the strategic vision that we had, we survived and came up stronger in the end. I think we’ve created friendships and partnerships for life. People were really scared. The day after the state of emergency was announced, a major client asked us to do an urgent repatriation flight. 24 hours later, 375 people were boarding a flight straight to Houston from Luanda. That shows the level of commitment, reliability and service that we are providing to support our clients.
What can the energy industry learn from Bestfly’s approach to local content development?
Bestfly employs 250 people. 95% of our workforce is Angolan, and our top management is entirely Angolan. Of course, we have partnerships, but that’s just the way the business is. On the helicopter side, we have strong partnerships with a French company, Héli-Union, and the American OEM Bell Helicopters.
Angolanisation is going to happen but it has to start with Angolans. It’s not something that can be imposed. It comes with training, but if you don’t have that person’s commitment, training is not effective. Bestfly is about to turn 12 years old. We have people who have been part of the team since the beginning. Maybe they started by cleaning the floor and today they are the ground operations manager. That shows the progress and belief that people have in this project.
What facilities for passengers, equipment and maintenance are available in the Bestfly Luanda facility?
Bestfly operates a fully certified FBO (fixed-base operations) and VIP terminal in Luanda where we have full services including immigration and Customs on site 24/7. The security of our terminal is ensured by the great men and women of the National Police allocated to Bestfly who ensure the highest security and compliance protocols with Customs and SME and health officials on site permanently to provide a seamless service to our clients.
On the technical side, Bestfly has and operates a state-of-the-art 3,000-square-metre hangar where maintenance is performed on both our aircraft and helicopters. In 2020 and 2021, we completed two four-year inspections on two of our Leonardo AW139 helicopters and two Phase 4 inspections (the biggest inspection on the programme) on our Beechcraft King Air 350s.
BestFly also has a Swiss FOCA line station approval for its hangar in partnership with Tag Aviation, a Dassault-owned company, to provide maintenance services for European-registered aircraft, again as the only holder in the country of such approvals.
Do you have any fleet expansion plans?
Bestfly is continuing to expand its owned and managed fleet, having added a Falcon 900 in 2020 and taking delivery of the second ATR amidst the pandemic. The company is planning to add another four helicopters to start developing another non-energy-related business, as well as the addition of an additional Bombardier Global Express aircraft to its fleet.
Currently, Bestfly has aircraft based in Dubai, Republic of Congo and the DRC and other bases will come soon.
What is your vision for Bestfly’s future?
I can proudly say that Bestfly is an Angolan company that serves the world. We compete with major companies in our segment in this region. We can provide services that are as good or even better than anybody else’s, whether they are foreign or local, in this part of Africa.
Bestfly is already 12 years old and it is continuing to grow. We want to continue growing the company to be a powerhouse of the aviation industry in this part of the world. We want Bestfly to be known as the company in Africa for business aviation and support services. We are not there yet but We aim to be there in five to seven years’ time. We will definitely be there in five years.
Sorry. No data so far.