A bitter experience that helped foster a dream

Updated: 2017-04-21 07:05

By Duan Ting in Hong Kong(HK Edition)

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Thomas Flohr takes great heart in checking on and looking after the welfare of his clients, visiting them and clocking up some 800 hours of flying around the world each year.

VistaJet has so far performed over 100,000 flights and served more than 250,000 passengers, having flown to 187 countries and regions and 1,600 airports.

Recalling his initiative to launch the business, he says: "I had been using private jets on a rental basis, but I was very unhappy with the quality of aircraft available in the open charter market. It may cost you an arm and a leg, and yet you have no idea of the quality of the service you would get until you arrive at the airport."

The dismal experience led the founder and chairman of the private-jet operator to buy the first airplane for his own use. With his first jet, he challenged the perception that aircraft should have a home base. He thought a home base was not necessary to make operations more efficient because he could easily pick up a client from whichever airport that's closest to the customer's location. So, VistaJet got off the ground in 2004.

Flohr reckons that his earlier working experience - as an executive at an asset finance company that owned a private jet - has enabled him to deal with the company's business and financing issues, as he could access the jet the company owns. He could see very early the benefits of how much time a private jet creates, and the real value proposition of business jets.

His advice to entrepreneurs is: Spend time on what one can influence and learn from the mistakes one makes and then move on. "Take all your positive energy in the morning and create what you can influence today. Surround yourself with the very best people. And there's no compromise you can ever make on people."

Being in charge of their business, people should have a very clear vision rather than being driven by what others say, reckons Flohr. The management should also be open in hiring talented people as they can help take the company to new heights.

Flohr loves business development which can lift the company to the next level, but the best people who can tell where the company should be headed are the clients. Thus, people should listen carefully to what their clients say.

Flohr has a penchant too for outdoor sports and cooking. "One of the things that allows me to relax the most is to go to a store to get some food and cook with friends at home," says Flohr, who lives in a sprawling chalet in the Alps of his native Switzerland.


 A bitter experience that helped foster a dream

Private-jet operator Thomas Flohr says what came as a surprise for his business in 2016 was the addition of larger corporate clients, plus new customers, including millennials and many from the technology sector. Parker Zheng / China Daily

(HK Edition 04/21/2017 page9)