Even looking at the black and white photos dating back to the very early 1960s, it is clear that the people who built the Costa Smeralda area were enlightened and equipped with a superior vision, as well as the unique ability to make all their ideas become a reality. For around 50 years, the Costa Smeralda has been renowned as one of the world’s most famous tourist destinations. Today, Eccelsa Aviation’s cutting-edge fixed base operator (FBO) air terminal lies at its very heart.
Just four kilometres separate Olbia Costa Smeralda Airport from the brand new Marina di Olbia, which provides berthing services and other facilities for yachts of all dimensions. Uniquely in the Mediterranean, there is a private transfer service between the Eccelsa Aviation terminal and the marina, allowing five-star vacationers to start their holiday within a few minutes of touching down. This is an amenity very much appreciated by private aircraft clients, who often lead busy lives and need to make the most of their precious downtime.
Sublime from all angles
Opened in summer 2009, the FBO is an architectural masterpiece in its own right. When viewed from above, it looks like a massive aircraft door, while from ground level its clean, sleek lines seem to swoop skyward like giant wings. As passengers relax in the cocoon-like comfort of the terminal, its elegant design and natural and artificial lighting create a sense of absolute peace and privacy.
The airport caters to more than 35,000 passengers a year, all of whom are bound for the world’s most beautiful stretch of beach. Eccelsa Aviation, a firm controlled 100 percent by the airport management company Geasar, which is part of the Meridiana Group, has fully embraced its role by combining utter professionalism with that touch of special charm that comes from dealing with a constant flow of discerning, often celebrity, clients.
Eccelsa’s culture of service – epitomised by its customer-orientated approach and its problem-solving attitude – is further underlined by the number of passenger requests that the 45-strong professional team, led by General Manager Francesco Cossu, has to accommodate on a daily basis. Each of these requests must be dealt with with passion and dedication – even the most challenging ones.
“Our passenger numbers and plane movements have doubled since the company was launched in 2003, and with that, the overall variety of requests we find ourselves having to satisfy has also increased,” Cossu told Business Destinations. “After all, in the service industry, service is everything. Within the boundaries of legality, goodwill and common sense, we always try to please our customers and make sure that they leave our premises happy and satisfied, whether they are arriving on the island or going back home. We are very much aware that our tourists are a real asset, not only for Eccelsa and the airport, but also for the entire territory.”
The year Eccelsa Aviation’s terminal at Olbia Costa Smeralda airport opened
Passengers transit through the terminal
of shops and leisure facilities are available in the terminal
The number of highly selective visitors arriving in the Costa Smeralda has skyrocketed in recent years. These are tourists that visit the region from many different corners of the world in order to relax on superyachts, in the dreamily exclusive villas along the shores, or in the region’s most exclusive hotels. The construction of the FBO terminal, which now offers no less than 4,000sq m of retail heaven, was a direct response to this influx of visitors.
The retail area includes a plethora of luxury brands, such as de Grisogono jewellery and Provasi luxury furniture, as well as high-end men’s and women’s shoes and sunglasses, and selected food products and fine wines from Sardinia, the Italian mainland and other exceptional European food locations. There is also a quality restaurant and a conference hall, as well as a San Marino Aircraft Registry office and an architectural studio gallery, which each offer their services to the high-net-worth individuals transiting through the FBO terminal during the summertime.
The terminal is a glittering symphony of glass, steel and beautiful local yellowish granite. However, it boasts one feature in particular that makes it absolutely unique in Europe: a formidable outer wing that allows guests to enter and exit the terminal directly from their aircraft. In cases where this is not possible, passengers will instead be invited to take a sleek Audi for the short distance between the aircraft and the terminal while a competent and well-trained team handles their luggage with care and professionalism.
This giant wing provides shelter to even the largest executive Boeing 737, Airbus A319 and Airbus A320 jets. These aircraft are the closest thing to an airborne villa, boasting hundreds of square metres of cabin space. They can also include up to three bedrooms, four or five bathrooms, a lounge, an office and enough fuel to fly across the Atlantic. Tellingly, these giant executive jets now make up around five percent of aircraft movements at the FBO.
It goes without saying that July and August are the busiest months in the skies over Costa Smeralda, with between 3,000 and 4,000 arrivals and departures clocking up each month. Privacy, security and comfort are among the most important qualities that private aircraft passengers appreciate about Eccelsa Aviation, winner of Best Fixed Base Operator for Europe in the 2017 Business Destinations Travel Awards, during these busy months.
The number of highly selective visitors arriving in the Costa Smeralda has skyrocketed in recent years
Eccelsa Aviation’s work with the Marina di Olbia is very much a part of this exceptional service, thanks to a discreet limousine fleet that whisks incoming passengers directly to their yachts once they touch down, ensuring they can enjoy their holiday to the very last minute. Furthermore, it’s just a quick hop via helicopter to any superyacht with a helipad, or to many of the local hotels and villas. The whole process runs as smooth as clockwork thanks to the undisputed skills and efficiency of Eccelsa’s highly motivated team.
In addition, the terminal’s concierge service will organise everything visitors may require to make their stay a perfect one, including: horse trekking activities; private aircraft or helicopter rentals; Ferrari, Bentley or Aston Martin rentals; and yacht charters, both bareboat or with a skipper and crew included. Eccelsa, through its sister company Cortesa, also provides first-class in-flight catering, boasting a menu of more than 100 dishes. These fine foods range from simple sandwiches to mouth-watering lobster dishes, local Sardinian and Italian specialities, and fine wines.
The terminal includes also a coffee shop and a bar, which serve food throughout the day and allow all guests transiting through the FBO to enjoy a local dish or a glass of good wine, local spumante or prosecco while waiting for their aircraft to be ready. Eccelsa also has an agreement with the Meridiana maintenance team to deliver first-class ground assistance, integrated services for flight crews and the option to shelter private aircraft in the airport’s hangars for the duration of their stay in Olbia. Air taxi companies and their crews are also well catered for; the arrival of these firms now account for around 60 percent of traffic coming into Olbia Costa Smeralda.
Eccelsa Aviation is one of the reasons why people demanding a truly special holiday in a unique and luxurious destination return to Sardinia again and again. This is an island where friendliness, quality and first-class service are second nature to its inhabitants. An incredible array of different cultures meet and live together in total harmony for the entire summer season, regularly using Eccelsa Aviation for all their private aviation needs.