JetFlite International (JFI Jets) Chief Executive Officer Bill Cripe hailed the turnaround in the company’s charter activity in the first three months of this year after suffering losses in the final three months of 2011.

Total charter income at JFI Jets was 34 percent higher in the first quarter of 2012 compared to the last quarter of 2011.  Maintenance income was up 28 percent and FBO income was 22 percent higher over the same period. 

“The second half of 2011 was a tough market,” Cripe said.  “This past quarter was definitely much better.   We had the best January charter sales in several years.   Most of this increased charter flying this year is taking place within the United States.  We aren’t doing as many international trips right now compared to last year. 

“The increased flying is partly due to our aircraft fleet changing a little bit from heavy international-flying aircraft to mid-size planes and more domestic flights.”

Patrizia Gibson, JFI Jets east coast charter sales director, said she has seen a lot more trip requests since the start of the year.  “The economy appears to be better.  There used to be much more negotiating in selling trips.  That’s no longer the case.  People aren’t bargaining as much now.”

Gibson said JFI Jets, a leading provider of aircraft management and charter services worldwide, is receiving many more foreign broker requests, mainly from Europe.  “We have received numerous calls from European brokers in London, Vienna and Geneva.  I think these calls are a result of building relationships and providing good service.”

Cripe said the company earlier this year took aggressive steps to stem the downturn slide while positioning the company to deal with a tighter business aviation market.  “We are getting more of our people involved in the sales process,” he said.  “We want to have more of a mix in our business base.    We are also taking steps to bring our operations and staff in New York and the West Coast much closer together.  That will help increase our efficiency.”

JFI Jets has three major hubs of aviation, New York, Moscow, and the West Coast where it has operating bases and is one of the few charter and management operators with operations on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.

Last year JFI Jets, with a fleet of 14 aircraft, opened a sales and business development office in New York City while it has an operating base at Republic Airport in Farmingdale, NY.  In October, JFI Jets entered an agreement with Moscow-based Best-Jets LLC to help JFI Jets develop its business aviation interests in Russia.  The new venture is called JFI Russia.  JFI Jets has been utilizing Best-Jets’ handling services and aircraft for the past five years. 

“I expect JFI Russia to be an integral part contributing to our growth this year,” Cripe said. 

Last year JetFlight International flew to more than 35 countries including Algeria, Brazil, Chile, China, Czech Republic, France, Georgia, Israel, Morocco, Russia, Ukraine, and Vietnam.