What is your story in this business? How did everything start?
I've been in this business for 29 years. I started in Greece, working exclusively with an executive and military aircraft. We didn't do any charter or commercial flights. While 22 years ago, we established Skylink in Cyprus, and that’s where the real story began.
What was your childhood dream, and was it associated with aviation?
My father was an engineer for Olympic Airways when Aristotle Onassis still owned it. Father’s love and passion for his work inspired me tremendously. Despite that, my father insisted me to be a lawyer. He used to comment that I can talk my way out of anything when I was very young. I always like the challenge, and I enjoy communicating with people. Aviation is an industry where communication and reliability are the key factors of success, and both of them I take to my heart. No flight is ever the same.
What types of services are provided by the Skylink terminal?
We provide ground handling services for aircraft. We represent over 420 companies worldwide: from the biggest companies fleets to the smallest ones. Whenever they come to Cyprus, we get permission to land, and we take care of the catering, refueling, crews, hotels, transport. We operate the executive terminal, which provides immigration, customs, and security services.
Skylink offers all its customers a state-of-the-art facility fit for world leaders. We start with the red carpet at the steps of the aircraft, oversee all of the details, and offer a fleet of executive vehicles. Our staff and management pride themselves in providing the most efficient service, guaranteed discretion, while all information gathered from our operators, passengers, and heads of states is treated with extreme confidentiality. I believe that’s the main reason our customers prefer us.
Can business class passengers of regular flights use these services?
No. We are working on this with the government to provide some CIP services. They've started giving allowances for some embassies and ambassadors. We are trying to find common grounds with the airport authorities and government, and we hope to be able to provide these services soon. Also, we provide Meet & Assist services at the new terminal. So if you want to go fast track on arrival, we can meet you at the aircraft, take you to immigration, clear you through immigration and customs, collect your luggage, and escort you to your vehicle.
We also can provide this service for the outbound. We can meet you outside, check you in, pass you again through immigration and the security, and escort you to the aircraft. This service can be ordered on the Skylink website or by calling the 24hr operations.
When does someone want to come to Cyprus for business or vacation? What is the best way to book a chartered flight?
I also own another company, EliteJet Aviation Services, which is exclusively for aircraft chartering. I have many customers based in Europe, especially in Nice or Monaco, who would call me saying: "I need to be in Munich tomorrow, please find me a jet.", and I am in a position to assist, thanks to access to all these companies, we represent. Normally, I start looking for the most economical solution for them with the most reliable company and aircraft. Many large companies are very reliable. I try not to charter from the operators with one or two aircraft because if mechanical issues arise, it will be difficult to find an aircraft in time for the flight. Anything could happen, and they won't be able to provide a backup for a customer. For this simple reason, I try to find companies with larger fleets for my customers. They can easily replace the aircraft, while I do not delay a passenger. There are many big companies, and many of them are very reputable and reliable to work with. And they will never let you down. For example, Vistajet has a large fleet. There is Air Hamburg, Avconjet, Globaljet concept, MHS, and many more, within Europe and the Middle East, which is a pleasure to be working with. As far as brokering is concerned, if you want a plane, it doesn't matter where you are in the world. A person that is handling your request knows the industry. He can easily find you an aircraft that would suit your needs and be as affordable as possible.
Were there any weird or funny stories during your career in the aviation business?
Oh, there are many funny stories. The most amusing flight request that we had happened many years ago. We had a request for an aircraft to land and picked up 60 watermelons. It was a weekend. They called me in the middle of the night from our operations department. They said: I received a very weird request: we have an aircraft coming from Saudi Arabia, they want us to find 60 watermelons, about 5.5 kilos to 6 kilos each, they'll come to pick them up and go back. No passengers, flying with G550, a very new aircraft at that time. I asked: ok, did they send a written request? Yes. Ok, let's go and find them the watermelons. I thought they were probably sitting that evening having dinner, and they likely had made a bet. To see who will win, they sent an airplane to pick up watermelons. However, that was the strangest request I've ever had. Of course, we provided the watermelons! We provide everything the customer asks for within reason. That one was a historical watermelon flight on a private jet.
Which celebrities arrived at your terminal?
We don't disclose which customers come. But there have been a lot of singers, many celebrities. Many politicians because will arrive at the Heads of State Lounge that we operate on behalf of the Republic of Cyprus. So we have many people arriving and departing at different times of the year.