When Mick Jagger and other celebrity or VIP clients visit the Thai capital, they don’t fly commercial airlines – not even first-class is fast enough or private enough. They call MJets, Thailand’s only fully licensed business jet operator. Originally established by the Minor Group in 2006, MJets is based at a small private terminal adjacent to Don Muang’s former international airport. The fleet of five is served by a 200-square-metre executive lounge and business centre for passengers as well as two state-of-the-art 2,600-square-metre hangars for maintenance, repair and overhaul services.
In addition to serving its own fleet, MJets has exclusive rights for all private jet ground-handling services at Don Muang. The company also offers a range of business aviation services from aircraft sales and charter-to-ground handling to the general public as well.
“The business jet market in Thailand is growing. Several local tycoons and air charter companies are interested in buying more jets or trading up to a bigger aircraft,” says Navdeepak Vaid, assistant to MJets managing director.
“Our terminal once belonged to the AOT, and was reserved for VIP government flights and occasional flights serving the royal family,” explains Kulthida Walsh, MJets’ sales and customer services manager.
“In 2009 the AOT released the terminal for commercial use. We won the open bid, and gave it a complete overhaul to create our executive lounge.
“We’re basically a one-stop service for any private aircraft under 45 tonnes. Besides clients using our aircraft we receive a large number of passengers using other private jets, mostly Gulfstreams and Challengers. Most of our clients are business executives, but we also see quite a few celebrities, including international actors and athletes.”
Old carpet and furniture were removed in favour of luxurious furnishings fit for a five-star resort. The wall facing the runway was replaced by large picture windows to open the space to more light and views of arriving and departing flights.
The spacious lounge includes shower facilities, a business centre for passengers and pilots, and a flight planning and pilot briefing office. The terminal has its own immigration and customs counters just outside the front door.
“People love the atmosphere in our lounge, and the convenient location only a short walk from the runway,” Kulthida says.
Currently MJets’ charter fleet consists of three aircraft. The smallest, a Piper Malibu Mirage, is a turboprop with a cruising speed of 480kph and a range of roughly a thousand kilometres, making it a popular choice for shorter private jet charters in Thailand (or as far afield as Cambodia and Vietnam). The craft seats two to four persons.
Next up in size is a Cessna Citation CJ3, the backbone of MJets’ private jet service.
Seating up to six passengers in extremely comfortable reclining leather seats, the CJ3 cruises at 773 km/hr and can fly 3,475 km without refuelling. Because the CJ-3 can take off and land at airports with runways as short as 3,000 feet, it’s a good choice for clients flying to regional airports in Southeast Asia or south China. The craft can hopscotch to Europe in two days with a stopover in Hyderabad, Mumbai or Dubai.
The pride of MJets’ fleet and the top of the Cessna business jet line is the Cessna Citation X (not the letter X, but rather the Roman numeral for 10). Since the retirement of the Concorde, the Citation X is the fastest civilian jet in the world, reaching a top speed of over 900kph.
The X’s plush cabin includes 7.3sqm of stand-up cabin space and seating for eight passengers. Each seat comes with an individual fold-out table for dining or work, and electrical power points. The seat reclines fully to convert to a bed. One executive seat is equipped with a control panel where a designated passenger can operate cabinlights and window shades, and monitor the entertainment system.
Between the passenger cabin and the pilots cabin is a small galley containing the appliances, dishes and cold storage necessary for catering, usually arranged through local hotels. A flight attendant (mandatory for every flight) serves food and beverages from the galley.