News & Blog
Interview: Jasna Jung about the past, the present & the future of Jung Sky
On May 14 2021, Women In Adria published an interview with our board member Jasna Jung. WIA and Jasna had a very interesting chat about the exciting beginnings of Jung Sky back in 2009, and the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic.
Jung Sky is an airline operating in the business aviation market and providing the service of custom private flights. We spoke with the Board member Jasna Jung about the company in general, the opportunities in Croatia for a private airline, and the impact of the pandemic on their business.
While in college, Jasna got a job at Trade Air, another domestic (Croatian) airline where she worked as a flight attendant for five years. There she met Kresimir Jung and Vedran Jung, the people with whom she would later run the company.
Kresimir and Vedran, who is now Jasna's husband, founded Jung Sky in 2009. Since then, all three of them have been managing the company together, with continuous and equal involvement in the company's daily operations, as well as in all of its strategic and development projects.
Alongside their managerial activities, Vedran is the IT Manager, Krešimir is one of the most experienced captains in the company, and Jasna is the Finance Director. The road to their success, however, has not been easy.
Starting an airline in Croatia
At the very outset of establishing an airline, it is necessary to have absolutely everything, from aircraft to personnel. Only then are you able to apply for the initial Air Operator Certificate (AOC). Jung Sky started with a small Cessna for panoramic flights, which served as a test model for later operations. ‘We created a story that we were able to upgrade with new aircraft, which is still a bit easier than when you start with a much larger and more complex aircraft’.
The transition to business aviation for Jung Sky was a demanding and mentally challenging process. They needed to win the banks’ trust to finance the first jet. ‘It was very difficult to get the loan for the first jet, but considering that we intended to engage in business aviation, which was an industry lesser known to the Croatian public at that time, certain reservations that the banks had about our financing were understandable.'
They bought the jet at a time when the crisis of 2008 was very much felt, although that crisis increased the supply of jets that were put up for sale and were very affordable.
‘Visits to the banks and negotiations on financing conditions lasted for about nine months, and there were situations where a bank wouldn’t even meet us or listen to our proposal. In addition to the loan for the aircraft, we also took out a loan for permanent working capital. The initial AOC we received for the small Cessna 172 may have put us in a slightly better position, but we still ended up getting a smaller loan and lower permanent working capital than we initially sought, which presented us with new challenges.’
The whole plan was a big risk because if it hadn't worked, they might have had to declare personal bankruptcy. The bank loan was weighing them down for a long time, so they kept working and did everything to ensure cash flow. However, not only did they achieve the planned results, they significantly exceeded them. ‘Two things have always been very important to us: regularity in terms of employees’ salaries that have always been paid on time, and regular repayment of loans.’
They have several competitors in the Croatian market, but Croatia Airlines is not one of them. ‘We offer completely different services. The way the service is used, the number of passengers, the potential - it's all pretty incomparable so we are not in competition with each other’.
We have more than 1,100 flights every year!
‘Business aviation, unlike regular airlines, has no such thing as standardized routes and flight schedules. We respond to the needs and schedule of the passengers.’
The price of the flight is contracted according to the total number of flight hours, and it includes the rental of the entire aircraft (the full passenger-seat capacity). ‘In our case, it's six seats. We currently have two jets in our fleet, both fully owned by us.’
The main features of the service are individual approach to passengers, and their privacy and escape from airport crowds, standardized ‘check-in’ and security procedures, waiting on airports as well as sharing of aircraft with people they do not know. ‘We are a private airline from Croatia, but most of our operations are abroad. Last year, we had more than 1,100 flights, we flew to 35 countries and passed through 186 airports across Europe and several airports in northern parts of Africa. This flexibility in the wide selection of departure and arrival destinations is one of the key benefits of business aviation.’
Their clients most often choose destinations such as Nice, Zurich, Vienna, Munich, Kiev, Rome and London, but the demand for destinations largely depends on the seasons. Last summer, Split, Dubrovnik and Zadar were among the most frequented destinations.
We plan to establish our own aircraft maintenance organization
They have been building their reputation on safety and quality of service for more than 11 years and most of their clients know what level of service, communication and relationship they can expect from them.
The most common clients are the so-called ‘brokers’ and brokerage firms that buy flights in accordance with their clients’ requirements and needs. Some passengers, of course, contact them directly. ‘As far as relationships with the brokers, in addition to the essential safety and quality of service, trust and a sense of partnership are most important because ultimately, we create the experience of our passengers together.’
Since the pandemic was declared, there has been no shortage of challenges in aviation. But while this pandemic era has been extremely challenging, it has not been the most difficult period they've went through, says Jasna. ‘The most difficult time was in the very beginning when we bought the first jet and just started to launch our operations in the business aviation industry where your competition is made up of hundreds of other operators from all over Europe and thousands of other private aircraft.’
However, the number of challenges they have faced since March 2020 is definitely something they haven’t experienced so far. They are proud of the fact that even after more than a year since the outbreak of the pandemic, they haven’t had any layoffs or pay cuts. They've even succeeded in recruiting two top experts for the positions of Technical Director and Head of Operational Control Center.
‘We plan on establishing our own aircraft maintenance organization and, before the coronavirus crisis, we planned to expand the fleet with another aircraft. We have not given up on any of our long-term goals. We just have to postpone some of the plans for the time being.’
The future of Jung Sky
They will continue to build the image of a boutique airline and thus won’t become a large system with seven, ten or more aircraft. ‘It remains to be seen whether we will have three, four or five aircraft in the fleet in 5 years. However, everything we do about it, we’ll do gradually. We want to avoid uncontrolled expansion at all costs.’
This year has so far been very similar to last year considering that regular air travel is still seriously affected by the pandemic. Business aviation is more flexible and it does not only retain most of its existing clients, but also manages to attract new clientele that have not yet travelled with a private jet. The only thing that is certain is that business aviation has shown its ability to recover from the crisis at a relatively stable pace as a result of the numerous benefits it offers, many of which are related to health and epidemiological concerns.
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