Crystal Skye is the world’s largest private jet and its first chartered journey will whisk 86 guests away on an eight-night journey to Nairobi in Kenya and Tahiti in French Polynesia.
Gafencu spoke to Kent Zhu, president of Genting Cruise Lines, about Crystal Skye’s inaugural flight, Genting’s future in air travel and what’s in store for Crystal and Genting.
Who’s your target market for Crystal Skye?
Crystal Skye has been created to provide global luxury, which means we are targeting a niche market — people who can afford their own private jets, yet they would prefer to have someone look after them. Our potential clients will be people who believe Crystal can design a travel programme and handle everything, from land to air and food to entertainment.
How do you attract potential customers?
This is a very different product in comparison to an ocean cruise or a hotel, or commercial airlines. Our customers may not necessarily be very high-profile, but they are very successful in their own right. Our way of approaching them is by a one-on-one basis, to discuss their needs and wants so we can tailor-make their itinerary for them.
Where will Crystal Skye fly to?
The inaugural trip will be from Hong Kong to Nairobi, Kenya and then on to Tahiti. The journey will be for eight nights and nine days.
Why did you pick to do the inaugural journey during “Golden Week”?
In China, we call it the ‘Golden Week’. But in Hong Kong, Japan and Taiwan, it is the weekend. We thought these particular dates would serve both markets.
What does Crystal Skye offer that’s different to other private jets?
A lot of differences. The plane itself is brand new and it is obviously the largest and most spacious private jet that’s ever been built. It has its own special lounge and stand-up bar. The seats are all first-class seats. We’ll have the highest staff-to-guest ratio with sixteen crew members. Ten of whom will be Crystal team members, and our Crystal team is experienced in catering to clients who choose to fly with us.
Why did you choose a Boeing 777 aircraft?
Our Boeing 777 is the largest private jet built so far, and obviously, we want to move into a different market segment. The largest of the other private jets has 45 seats. We want to stand out, which is why we chose a Boeing 777.
What’s the plan for Crystal Skye after its inaugural flight?
After the inaugural flight, we plan to operate on two business models. The first one is to build our own itineraries and create our own unique programmes. One example for a possible programme would be an around the world tour for a month.
Our second business model is based on private charters. If anyone in the world is interested in chartering the plane, they can. And we would be able to create itineraries based on their needs.
Why did you scrap the scheduled Crystal AirCruises journeys for 2017 and 2018?
After we announced the first itinerary, we saw a very different response from different markets. The strongest response came from the Asia Pacific region.
In terms of planning, we felt that in the near future, Asia is probably the target market we should do business with. Therefore, we moved the aircraft from North America to start our programme in the Asia-Pacific region.
What’s Genting’s role with Crystal AirCruises?
Crystal Air is actually part of the Crystal Cruises. It’s owned by Crystal Cruises but Genting Hong Kong purchased the cruise brand in 2015. Genting is the mother company, the owner of Crystal Cruises.
Why is Genting positioning itself with air travel?
Air travel is part of Genting’s business scope under the Crystal brand. I wouldn’t say that Genting is positioning itself with air travel because Air Cruise is part of the Crystal Cruises business model. Genting is chartering the plane in Asia to make sure the Crystal Air brand is well-positioned in the region.
What are the future plans for Crystal and Genting?
After Genting purchased Crystal, it grew significantly. It was probably Crystal’s fastest growth in two years. Not only did we upgrade the Crystal AirCruises, but last year, we also introduced the first-ever Crystal River Cruise. There will be two River Cruises delivered this year, and another two next year.
For Genting, we will expand our Dream and Star cruises. Dream Cruises was launched last November and we’ll launch another vessel, World Dream, this year. By 2021, there will be a ‘Global Class’ Crystal Cruise vessel delivered to Asia, and that’s going to be a 2000 ton megaship.
Text: Sadia Lima