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Capt. Kresimir Jung's interview for Forbes Croatia: "For me, being a pilot is a dream come true"

April 15, 2024 |
Capt. Kresimir Jung

Below you will find the English translation of the majority of the article originally published by Forbes Hrvatska on 3rd of March 2024 by the author Gordana Grgas


Captain Kresimir Jung, a true aviation-lover, founded Jung Sky with his brother Vedran 15 years ago. Last year the company made around 1,500 flights in total which pushed its yearly revenue to almost 7 million euros.

While we are talking via Whatsapp, we find out that our interviewee is in a hotel in Jerez, a Spanish city near Gibraltar. That morning, Captain Kresimir Jung flew the company's Cessna 525A CJ2 jet from Florence, carrying one passenger, and the next day he will return him to Italy. He therefore has a free afternoon, the weather is wonderful, and he will stroll through Jerez with his co-pilot. Being a tourist is one of the pleasures he can sometimes afford during his shifts which usually last 5-6 days. Jung Sky's most frequent destinations are Nice, Rome, London, Geneva, Naples, Venice, Vienna, Paris, Munich and Palma de Mallorca. In the summer – Dubrovnik, Split, Zadar as well as the Greek islands are popular, and sometimes, but not very often, their schedule has them flying to northern Africa.

He flies a lot, so it's a challenge to catch him while he's off duty in Zagreb. This particular shift started the day before, with a morning flight from Croatia to Barcelona with four passengers, and after refuelling and flying to Florence without passengers, he spent the night in Italy and took a 2.5-hour flight to Spain in the morning. Which destinations await him in the rest of his shift, he doesn't know at the moment, but business aviation’s dynamic everyday rhythm suits him perfectly, he says. "It's not like we’re just performing landings and take-offs from some airport. Thanks to this profession, I have visited many interesting places in my life", Capt. Jung notes.

His childhood dream came true

However, it was not his love for exploring cities that made us wish to tell his story, but his love for aviation and airplanes. Fifteen years ago, together with his brother, an IT expert Vedran Jung, he founded Jung Sky (in 2022, the company's revenue was 5.75 million euros, and in the last year it grew to around 6.9 million euros). Being a pilot was his childhood dream, and few can boast that they have made their dreams come true. "It was not a question of whether I would become a pilot or not. The only real question was WHEN will it happen", he says. He admits that he cannot live without airplanes. He also has a small Cessna 150, a two-seater that he uses for his private needs.

Last year, Zagreb's Jung Sky, one of the few business aviation operators in Croatia, conducted over 1,500 flights and visited 200 airports. They have three jets of the same model in their fleet, each with six passenger seats, with the latest one purchased last year, amounting to an investment of nearly three million euros. Our interviewee metaphorically describes these jets as "spaceships", partly due to their complexity compared to small Cessnas used for private purposes, and partly due to the fact that they fly at altitudes above those of large passenger planes. "This also means that the flight is more comfortable, without turbulence", he says. To our question about the usual altitude, he responds that it's 11-12 kilometers for flights lasting up to one hour, and for longer flights, it climbs to 12.5 – 13.5 kilometers.

Hourly flight rates up to 3,200 euros

Passengers are mostly businesspeople, but also generally members of the upper-middle class who want to reach their weekend homes and yachts across Europe faster and more conveniently than is possible with regular airline routes. As much as 99 percent of sales are achieved in strong market competition through various brokers from England, Switzerland, Italy, France, Germany, the United States, and other countries. Among them are various VIP, tourism, or concierge agencies, alongside companies declaring themselves as "private jet brokers/advisors." Flight prices? They depend on the time of year, but roughly, as Jung Sky's COO Kresimir Vlasic tells us, the "empty" flight hour (when traveling to pick up passengers at an airport) ranges from 1,800 to 2,400 euros, while with passengers aboard, it ranges from 2,000 to 3,200 euros per hour. "Generally, we are somewhat cheaper than the operators from western parts of Europe", he notes.

When asked if they might acquire larger aircraft so that Jung Sky could fly, for example, to the United States, Kresimir Jung, also a member of the Management Board, responds that this is not in their plans. They will remain in business aviation with aircraft of shorter range. 

Experience from Trade Air

His path as a pilot, he tells us, was "a bit atypical." He obtained his first private pilot license (PPL, formerly known as a 'sports pilot license') while completing his studies at the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Naval Architecture in Zagreb. He did that at the Ecos Pilot School in Lučko, founded by Miljenko Bucalovic, a commercial pilot, aviation mechanic, and a lawyer, back in 1991. He then enrolled in the Faculty of Transport and Traffic Sciences in Zagreb and underwent a series of courses and numerous flight hours to obtain the necessary licenses for flying large passenger aircraft. He then worked for five years at the Croatian airline Trade Air, initially as a co-pilot, then as a captain on the Fokker 100, and was also involved in operational management.

"At Trade Air, I learned about managing an airline and decided to start my own business in business aviation," he says. He now employs 10 pilots, and in the meantime, his son Lovro also became a pilot and has been serving as a co-pilot for 1.5 years. "I didn't push him into it; he came to me with the desire to be a pilot, and I can say he's exceptionally good. In 1-2 years, he'll be a captain," our interviewee says. Obviously, the heir to the family business is on a good track.

Jung Sky also has registered maintenance bases for Cessna 525/525A/525B aircraft in Zagreb and Varazdin, where they have leased a hangar. As COO Kresimir Vlasic explains, as of January 2024 they are certified for base aircraft maintenance (which is a term for large and complex services), so they will start developing business in that direction as well.

Base maintenance in Varazdin instead of Belgrade

At the moment of this interview, one of their jets, 9A-JSE, is undergoing a major several-month service in Varazdin. The long-term goal is, in addition to maintaining their own fleet – which they have done in Belgrade at Prince Aviation for the past years – to offer line and base maintenance services to other operators. Base maintenance is a very expensive service, Vlasic emphasizes; costing about 120,000 euros per aircraft, which includes the works and parts. Alongside fleet expansion to three jets, the company highlights that establishing its own aircraft maintenance organization is one of the most significant steps for Jung Sky in its 15-year old history.


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