“An aviation fan since childhood, this job is incredible.”
— Lionel Cojan, Flight Pro International (France)
Flight Pro International’s Lionel Cojan (France) shares the personal appeal behind his career in business aviation services.
Like many aviation enthusiasts, Lionel Cojan learned to fly before he learned to drive.
He pursued aircraft spotting and aircraft photography in order to stay as close to airports as possible during his early years. Unfortunately, his eyesight determined he wouldn’t enjoy a career as an airline pilot.
With a bit of tongue and cheek in his tone, Lionel explains that he made the next most obvious career choice: Microbiology, naturally. However, as most of our readerscan appreciate, it’s difficult to stay away from the industry when aviation is in the blood.
“As the mystery of life would have it, I came back to aviation through FBO photography and communications services, which led to the opportunity to help a small FBO in LFLL/Lyon with aircraft handling,” states Lionel. “Not only was I happy to take care of the aircraft, but specifically business aircraft… which is a more hidden side of aviation in France.”
Air Routing (AR), the alma mater company for a great majority of FPI’s team (thanks to FPI founder Tom Balousek’s role in co-founding AR in 1978) was where Lionel escalated his role as a local AR agent while managing FBO Operations for the LFLL airport.
After the LFLL FBO shuttered, Lionel quickly pivoted to Paris Le Bourget Airport where he discovered his love for the Charter sales and customer service aspect of the industry thanks to his role in developing a Business Charter company’s handling department.
Eventually, the Air Routing Group called Lionel back to their team in 2002 where he remained through multiple organizational changes until his shift to the FPI team in order to develop FPI France in 2021.
Tom Balousek states, “Our current FPI clients moving through France, French Guyana, Tahiti, and other French speaking regions will enjoy working with Lionel thanks to his well-rounded career in operations, charter sales, customer service, being a former pilot, and quite simply his friendly and energetic personality. He’s a natural at going the extra mile, which is why we pursued him in the 90s for the French Air Routing team, and pursued him again in 2021 to spearhead the French FPI location.”
Despite France being one of aviation’s early countries, French remote and regional airports are still lacking many specific services, especially critical for business aviation in today’s ever-changing world.
Transcending far beyond flight management, the role of FPI France includes:
- Ensuring 100% compliance with French rules and regulations
- Customs and immigration services
- Civilair and other necessary administration management
- Declarations for noise, pax taxes, and/or permits
Additionally, Lionel’s role within FPI France is not limited to the aviation aspect of travel. Clients can count on him to stay up-to-date on local information that may be helpful, such as local strikes, special events, great places to visit, local dining and hotel recommendations, and more.
“My goal is to anticipate all of the needs of our clients. Supervision of flights is a big asset offered by FPI France as it allows us to get to know our clients and suppliers on a more detailed level. It’s a great opportunity to fly with clients between French airports in order to provide 100% dedicated, end-to-end service, to ensure all is going well for them, and often to simply provide a friendly atmosphere during travel.”
A lifelong aviation fan, Lionel still marvels at the opportunities he’s had to come aboard so many types of business aircraft.
“As a kid, I never would have dreamt of flying on such a wide range of business jets, from the Falcon 10, to Gulfstream G650, to a private 727, all while meeting a wonderful variety of people over the years.
Whether business leaders, family members, Heads of States, Royalties, movie stars or musicians,” says Lionel, “my energy is for my clients!”