Interview with Inflite Jet Centre CEO, Penny Stephens

Airport lounges: Inflite jet centre


July 18, 2016

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One of the greatest advantages of chartering an aircraft is the option of using fixed base operators.

Separate from the main airport facilities, these private terminals can provide a level of service that is second-to-none, with in-house amenities that make the pre- and post-flight formalities a pleasure, rather than an inconvenience.

Inflite Jet Centre, based out of Stansted, is one such organisation that prides itself on delivering these experiences time and again.

ACC caught up with CEO Penny Stephens to find out a bit more about Inflite and the services that they offer.


Could you tell us a little bit about Inflite Jet Centre?

We first set up the Inflite Group over 30 years ago – my husband was an aeronautical engineer who wanted to set up his own maintenance company.

We purchased what were then some pretty tired-looking hangars at Stansted and began providing a range of services.

We would offer the crews and staff tea and coffee served in actual cups, instead of the plastic disposable ones they were used to and bit by bit we started to build a reputation for going the extra mile and offering something no one else would or could.

We established the private terminal with a view to leveraging the growing market for larger-volume commercial charters and managed to obtain backing from Stansted.

The rest, as they say, is history.


What facilities are available to passengers?

In 2013, we invested £4 million in a significant refurbishment of Inflite Jet Centre’s facilities and we are now delighted to offer a selection of lounges to cater for groups of any size.

Our largest can hold up to 200 people, with another up to 70, with drive-up access, putting clients just 20 paces from their aircraft.

We also have a land-side lounge for groups of up to 40 or a more intimate space for up to 20 people.

It not only gives us the flexibility to cater to the respective needs of different group sizes but also gives us the ability to split groups.

For example, where we’ve had football teams travelling with support staff and fans, the players need somewhere they can relax, with menus tailored specifically to their dietary requirements.

The fans, on the other hand, are less regulated in what they can eat and drink, so we can host them in a separate lounge and arrange for an entirely different set of catering options for them.


Do you host pre/post-flight events and if so, what kind of events?

With my background in hospitality, hosting events is one of my favourite parts of this job – we’ve had all manner of parties, conferences, celebrations and special occasions, from pre-wedding do’s to car launches.

Every now and again, we even have main terminal airlines using our facilities.


What advantages are there to using a private terminal/FBO?

One of the greatest benefits is the flexibility to transform what has, traditionally, been an inconvenient aspect of air travel into an experience in itself.

Our fantastic range of departure lounges allow us to cater to the specific needs of our guests, regardless of the group size, and our team are dedicated to delivering exceptional levels of service every step of the way.

And, with the latest in-house customs facilities, security checks and passport control are a breeze.


What types of passenger do you typically find use your facilities?

We see a really diverse range of clients using our facilities at Inflite Jet Centre, from celebrities and sports teams to corporate executives and automotive manufacturers launching their latest marque.

We’ve also recently teamed up with Titan Airways and a leading luxury cruise line for a programme this summer.

However, despite this, and contrary to popular belief, we actually see very few passengers flying for pleasure.

It’s a disappointingly common misconception that private aviation is the reserve of the rich and famous jetting off to an exclusive holiday destination – we’re far more likely to see an executive team embarking on an exhaustive multi-leg road show using our services.


On the subject of passengers, do you often get requests concerning pets?

It’s quite common, actually, and, in fact, Inflite Jet Centre is the only PETS-approved FBO at London Stansted, meaning we’re able to process dogs, cats and even ferrets (although to date we’ve yet to receive a request for the latter).

Travelling with pets can often be a stressful experience for animals and owners alike, so we pride ourselves on being able to facilitate the whole process as much as possible.

We are DEFRA-certified, with a team of fully-trained staff and on-site quarantine kennels, allowing us to deal with everything on-premises.


What’s the strangest request you’ve had to deal with from a passenger/client?

I have to say that would probably be loading two miniature ponies on board an Embraer Legacy.

The passengers were adamant that the ponies fly in the cabin with them, so we had to upload enough hay to ensure that they were comfortable for the duration of the flight.

For more information about using FBOs for large group aircraft charter or chartering a private jet, speak with our experts on +44 (0)1737 232230, email us or fill in our online enquiry form.

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