Private jets are synonymous with luxury and wealth, and the perception often comes with celebrity and status. But have you ever thought about who may be behind the scenes rather than in them?
Frank De is President of Sino Jet, a business jet operator that is outpacing its competitors in the Asia–Pacific region. The company operates in China and Hong Kong, with approximately 40 business jets domestically and internationally, and employs around 300 personnel with a wide range of expertise in business aviation.
“We are dedicated to becoming the most trusted and reliable aviation management company,” Frank says. “We focus on long-term sustainable growth, which induces loyalty and commitment from all business partners and stakeholders.”
“We are dedicated to becoming the most trusted and reliable aviation management company.”
Frank had more than 15 years of business aviation management experience in China before joining Sino Jet. He worked as General Manager at one of the fixed-based operators (FBO) in the country’s Guangdong province.
After years of FBO management, he wanted to demonstrate his expertise in business aviation, not only in a specific association but also for the whole industry. “I strongly believe that success comes together with changes, whether for business or personal development. I apply this value to the company.”
Sino Jet was founded in Hong Kong in 2011 and was acquired by Tsinghua Holdings Capital and Sunshine Insurance. It merged with Bear Jet in China in 2015 to enlarge the business scale.
“It was a relatively new company to penetrate the market and had much room to improve,” Frank says. “I have since used my management direction and strategies to apply my expertise in business aviation operation, safety and facilities to drive the Sino Jet presence.”
Sino Jet has seen other management companies go bankrupt and put their Air Operator’s Certificates up for sale. “Whole fleets of aircraft were put on the market to downsize and survive,” Frank says.
“We’ve seen senior management changes and business model adjustments. However, there is still an opportunity for Sino Jet and the aviation industry; it depends on how we react to those problems.”
Frank’s ultimate business principle is to grab opportunities. “The aviation business is big business,” he explains.
“Leading Sino Jet, I have to be flexible to seize any opportunity and make it beneficial to the industry. We must think forward and beyond what the market needs. As long as we can create needs for the industry and make a difference every day, we will have long-term and sustainable growth.”
Frank believes in always moving forward, or you’ll fall behind because innovation is essential to company growth. “In management, we have to understand current user preference and changes, so that we can tailor-make our service to fit the market needs,” he says.
Frank De’s favourite place to travel to is Switzerland “because of those breathtaking views from mountain towns. I can also explore historic districts, marvelling at majestic alpine meadows ringed by snowy mountains.”
“We encourage business diversity. Aircraft management is no longer our only business; we also expand our service to (subsidiary) GEOSTAR, or China Entrepreneur Flying Club, which provides customised travel plans to business elites and entrepreneurs to gain a unique experience by achieving one’s potential and fulfilling themselves.
“There’s also the Sino Jet Academy, a Corporate Jet Crew Program that educates the younger generation and attracts more new blood to the industry,” he explains.
“It’s a three-day course for anyone who currently works in the corporate aviation industry, commercial cabin crew or for hospitality personnel. It is also ideal for those wishing to enhance their professional experience and to update their service skills.”
There are three ways in which Frank motivates his team. Firstly, he pays employees what they are worth. “Pay them well and have regular appraisals and evaluations,” he says. “And offer opportunities for self-development.”
Synergy is a team at Sino Jet responsible for holding different employee activities aimed at developing their talents and enriching employee experiences, for example, cocktail-making classes, cooking classes, tea art, hiking and boat trips. “It’s a good way to promote work-life balance, too.”
Secondly, the company likes to encourage happiness. “Happy workplaces can improve our co-workers’ lives,” Frank explains. “We enjoy the time with our employees, so we have different monthly activities that include both management and co-workers to introduce a harmonious working environment.”
“Happy workplaces can improve our coworkers’ lives.”
Thirdly, the company sets clear goals. “Every team has clear KPIs for evaluating their performance,” he says. “Every KPI is measurable and achievable so that every employee can check the progress and set specific tactics to achieve them.”
Frank values knowledge, which helps him lead the company thoroughly, and continues to challenge himself in whatever ways he can. “The business aviation industry is a dynamic service industry that is affected by government policy, the economy, technology and customer preference,” he explains.
“I have to take the initiative to create a trend, make an effort, change and grow beyond my imagination. This will shape me into a better person and advocate business growth.”