Air Service Basel’s customer relations manager, Benedict Staehelin discusses the closure of the FBO’s maintenance department.
Can you describe the maintenance service department at Air Service Basel?
It has been servicing aircraft since 1967. In 2009 we moved to a new facility and combined with the FBO services at Basel airport. In the last few years we have been a niche player in the maintenance of small to medium sized business aircraft, mostly older aircraft, which were out of warranty.
Why are you closing the department?
Being part of such a niche market has become more difficult. Many of our regular clients have sold their aircraft to other continents, meaning they became out of our reach. Different manufacturers in our area began to establish their own service centres and went into the market with lower prices. When Covid-19 started, we took the difficult decision to close down the maintenance a bit earlier than originally planned. Covid-19 was not the cause of the closure, but it did speed up the process.
How have you been dealing Covid-19?
Our highest priority has been to protect our clients and employees. As we are in a private terminal our clients have a lot of confidence that there is less risk, specifically when using our FBO. During Covid-19 there has been an increase in the number of medical flights. We are very close to Alsace, which was severely affected by the virus – many doctors and nurses flew into the region via our FBO. We stayed open throughout the lockdown and had no Covid-19 cases in our team. We proved our clients could rely on us. But in general, we’ve been less busy.
What new services are you launching?
We are focusing more on our consultant services in the future. We offer administrative service quality management and with over 50 years of experience, we can now offer an established partnership for training. With our experience, we can support and help other companies, especially smaller companies, with our knowledge and solutions. So that will be our future plans.
Can you tell me what your career path was to your current role?
I started as an airline pilot. I began working in the aviation consulting area when I stopped flying. I now have over 25 years of experience in the industry. At the start of 2018 Claudio Lasagni, the CEO of Air Service Basel, approached me and asked if I would be open to joining the company as a customer relations and project manager, so I am quite new in the role, but I love it.
Which part of your job do you enjoy the most?
I see myself as a troubleshooter and I enjoy being able to solve impossible situations to the full satisfaction of our customers. Also, no two days here are ever the same, all my days are very different. There’s no nine to five here.
What would you say is the most challenging aspect of your job?
The Covid-19 situation has definitely been very difficult. I have to be very flexible and keep operations running during this uncertain period. And it still is very challenging. We don’t know what’s going to happen next. Nobody does, it’s so uncertain. Every day new countries come on the red list or on the quarantine list. We have to adapt and find solutions for passengers. It’s very challenging.