A passion for fixed-base operations which was kindled while working as a weekend volunteer in Newcastle has taken Gary Forster to the paradise island of Bali – via the Middle East – to run ExecuJet’s expanding facility.
Tell us about your career to date
I started working weekends as a volunteer at the local fixed-base operation (FBO) in Newcastle, UK, while I was learning to fly, and that eventually became a full-time operations role.
The FBO developed quickly and we began ramp/flight planning and started selling fuel, representing the FBO and Air BP at trade shows.
I then moved into an operations manager position with a maritime patrol organisation, operating a fleet of aircraft under contract for the UK government.
My fuel interest was rekindled when Air BP approached me to oversee its airport fuel facilities and I quickly became training champion, travelling and working all over the UK.
In this role, I managed the fuel farm at the Rolls-Royce Engine Test Facilities in Derby and Hucknall, as well as the civilian site at RAF Northolt. I then returned to my true vocation of FBOs and started the Riyadh facility for ExecuJet before moving on to the paradise island of Bali to set up its FBO.
Have you always been interested in aviation?
Yes. My parents used to take me to Newcastle airport as a child and I used to watch aircraft for hours. I took my first flight, aged six, in a Britannia Airways 737-200 to Spain.
I obtained my private pilot’s licence, but never had the desire to fly commercially.
After nearly 30 years of being involved with aircraft, the fascination still grips me and has given me many great opportunities in life.
Describe your current role
As the general manager for ExecuJet in Bali I am responsible for all aspects of the operation, from finances to staffing, and business development to customer relations. I am still very eager to get out on the ramp to meet and greet clients, crew, and friends who use the new general aviation terminal.
What makes Bali a popular destination for business aircraft customers?
The island has a quality like nowhere else; the mix of religions and the extraordinarily friendly people, together with the beautiful beaches and yearround temperatures give Bali the edge over many destinations.
The vast majority of clients who visit are here to relax and unwind; a set of golf clubs is more commonly seen than a business suit.
“I am still very eager to get out on the ramp to meet and greet clients, crew and friends”
What are your biggest challenges?
Business aviation is in its infancy in Indonesia and there are tremendous growth opportunities with such a huge and diverse culture and country.
The expansion currently under way will be my biggest challenge as we look to expand our business model to other locations in Indonesia and Asia.
Recently, the government announced the building of 15 new airports by 2018 and the lengthening of 100 existing runways to accommodate 737-type aircraft at some of the current 237 airports.
What are the best aspects of your job?
The people I work with, the clients and the business aviation community, which all provide a great working environment, not to mention the beautiful island of Bali. I’m also very excited about the Asian market potential and ExecuJet’s presence here.
What are your ambitions for ExecuJet’s Bali FBO?
I want us to consistently be the best FBO in Asia and to rank among the best in the world.