Summer 2023

The Application of Experience

Partnership-agreement-between-BFK-and-Xen

Africa’s Bestfly and Krimson Aviation have formed BFK Aviation to support new aviation markets, beginning in Guyana

On 27 February, Angolan operator Bestfly and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia-headquartered flight support, charter and aviation consultancy Krimson Aviation revealed a new joint venture, BFK Aviation, initially for operations in Guyana. Its remit is to support industry evolution and growth in emerging markets around the globe, drawing on experience gained in the African market. And BFK has already signed its first partnership agreement, with Georgetown, Guyana-based operator and aviation services provider Xen Aviation.

An IS-BAO recognised operator, Bestfly runs a mix of turboprops, executive jets, regional airliners and helicopters, and operates commercial scheduled routes to Cabo Verde. Bestfly co-founder and CEO Nuno Pereira explains why Africa’s leading business aviation companies are working together in South America.

“Bestfly’s five-year expansion plan had achieved as much as it could in Angola, but we wanted to continue growing. The Bestfly-Krimson partnership – now BFK Aviation – was a no-brainer because Bestfly is establishing joint ventures and partnerships around the world, and it was a very good opportunity to integrate our growth strategy. It was an easy decision to expand Bestfly’s footprint to Guyana, in partnership with our Ethiopian colleagues.”

Dawit Lemma, CEO at Krimson Aviation, adds: “We’d been working on an opportunity in Guyana since early 2022. The country is developing an oil, gas and petroleum – OGP – production capability and we saw an opportunity to come in and use our expertise to provide ground services to the OGP providers. The local operator was interested not only in ground handling, but also flight operations. That’s when our thoughts turned to Bestfly. We are very familiar with Bestfly’s capabilities in Africa, and we had a common interest, given Bestfly’s status as a key stakeholder in oil and gas support in Angola.”

Pereira continues: “Guyana’s language and culture are similar to Angola’s, and this is another reason we wanted to work there. Its growing OGP sector needs experience to launch its aviation support and BFK is taking a holistic approach to delivering that. Reflecting the philosophies of Bestfly and Krimson, BFK does not plan to come in, win a contract for four or five years, and then leave. We want to establish a legacy, create a differentiator in the market, value for the people – and, of course, make money. And our focus goes beyond OGP to scheduled regional services, maintenance, ground handling, FBO, cargo handling, then capacity building, training and consultancy; we want to develop the country’s aviation sector to benefit the whole community.”

 

Back home
Meanwhile, back in Africa, while Lemma admits there is still much to do, he also notes that Krimson and Bestfly are well placed for expansion. “You could count the continent’s aviation powerhouses on the fingers of one hand, yet there are 54 countries in Africa. I would love to be able to say that African FBOs, maintenance facilities and aircraft operations are, if not on a par, at least somewhat on par with the rest of the world. But they are non-existent outside five countries.

“Outside of what Bestfly is doing in Angola and what we’re doing in Ethiopia, the rest of the African story is really a void. We would like to change that, but it must be done in the right way with the right commitment. Africa is a long-term commitment, and we are slowly but surely attracting the OEMs and some MRO interest, but it will be a long time before we are on a par with developed business aviation sectors.

“We are also looking at creating a Krimson FBO chain and studying Ghana, not just for an FBO, but also within the bigger picture, as our West African springboard. We’re in discussions to set up an office there to manage the region because we believe Ghana is aligned with many of our criteria. Ghana will be more than an FBO: it will be our first base outside Addis Ababa. And, with Bestfly in Senegal, there’s an opportunity for us to ‘own’ that corridor, that coastline from Ghana all the way west up to Senegal and everything in between.”

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