For nearly half a century, the Costa Smeralda in northern Sardinia has been regarded as one of the world’s most high-profile tourist destinations; a Mediterranean haven where the rich and the famous disembark from their private jets and hide themselves away for the summer months. Eccelsa Aviation’s new terminal at Olbia Costa Smeralda Airport was conceived, designed and built with the unique needs of this clientele in mind.
Eccelsa Aviation has embraced its key role within a community of private travellers and high-profile visitors
Opened in 2009, the new Eccelsa terminal is entirely dedicated to private aviation. Work on this impressive structure commenced following extensive surveying of the company’s crew and passengers, which took place with the aim of fully understanding the desires and demands – with regards to infrastructure, services and organisation – of this niche group of travellers. Now completed and fully operational, the terminal building is an architectural masterpiece in its own right: designed to look like a vast aircraft door from above, from the ground the structure is made up of sleek curves and clean lines that swoop skywards like a pair of wings. Clients relaxing in the cocoon-like comfort of the terminal will be blown away by the vast pools of natural light and the relaxed, intimate atmosphere that they create – a strange sensation to encounter in an airport that caters to over 30,000 passengers a year.
Catering for the elite
The Eccelsa terminal lies in the heart of Costa Smeralda, just 2km away from the brand new Marina di Olbia. Eccelsa Aviation is able to provide clients with sumptuous and discreet transfers directly to this marina, which accommodates luxury yachts of all sizes. Also close by, less than a 20-minute drive from the airport, is Porto Cervo; the spectacular deluxe resort on the northern coast of the island that has been drawing in society’s highest flyers from across the globe since it was set up in 1961. The added convenience of the resort’s close proximity to the airport makes for quick transfers and short waiting times.
Eccelsa Aviation has embraced its key role within this community of private travellers and high-profile visitors, combining utter professionalism with a touch of unique charm that can only come from the experience of dealing with a constant flow of discerning – and often celebrity – clients. “We just came across the ocean and have landed in our private jet – is there any chance you could have a helicopter ready in a few minutes to fly us over to our yacht in Porto Cervo?” is a familiar request faced by the Eccelsa team, says General Manager Francesco Cossu. He tells Business Destinations, “Since the company was founded, our passenger numbers and plane movements have doubled. With the sheer variety of requests that we receive, we have to guarantee satisfaction no matter what. We are a company that offers exclusive services – we have to be well trained and prepared to meet our customers’ demands. Service is everything – only the highest level of quality will do.”
Such an outlook has since led the company from success to success. The number of private aircraft arriving at Costa Smeralda is continually growing, bringing in a constant flurry of visitors who are looking to relax in their exclusive villas along the island’s northern shore, seek some alone-time in the area’s most luxurious hotels, or socialise with their fellow elite at the island’s exclusive sailing club – the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda (YCCS). The construction of the Eccelsa terminal was a result of this ever-increasingly influx – comprising a fine dining restaurant, conference hall and 4,000sq m of shopping opportunities, with shops selling fine cashmere, luxury eyewear brands and a whole host of internationally recognised designers including De Grisogono, BVLGARI, Zegna and Cucinelli, the island’s valued guests are fully catered for upon arrival or departure from this exclusive destination.
Constructed from glass, steel and beautiful local yellow granite, the glittering air terminal has one feature in particular that makes it absolutely unique across Europe: a formidable outer wing, which allows guests to enter and exit the terminal building directly from their private aircraft. This giant piece of infrastructure can accommodate even the vast Boeing 737, Airbus 319 and Airbus 320 aircraft; jets that are the closest thing you can find to an airborne villa. Capable of including three bedrooms, four or five bathrooms, lounges, offices and enough jet fuel to undertake a flight across the Atlantic Ocean, these executive luxury aircraft now account for some six percent of traffic at the Eccelsa terminal.
Founded in 1989 by GEASAR SpA (the Olbia Airport Management Company, which remains as Eccelsa’s 100 percent shareholder), Eccelsa became an autonomous entity in 2003, and has been accommodating for the private air travel sector ever since. Naturally enough, July and August are the company’s busiest months, with between 3,000 and 4,000 arrivals clocking up each month. During this hectic time in particular, privacy and security are two of the qualities of luxury air travel that passengers appreciate most. Eccelsa Aviation strives to meet these demands, organising helicopter transfers from the Olbia terminal to nearby villas or hotels to guarantee maximum discretion and convenience. The company’s 40-strong team are highly motivated and willing to organise any aspect of a visitor’s trip, including helicopter tours of the area, Ferrari or Aston Martin rentals, yacht charters and horse riding.
With the support of its sister company, Cortesa – the only certified inflight catering provider in north Sardinia – Eccelsa also provides high-quality catering on board the aircraft. Offering over 100 tasty dishes, ranging from first-rate sandwiches to fresh lobster, Eccelsa is meticulous about every single element of its guests’ trips. The company also extends its service to the maintenance sector – working in conjunction with the Meridiana maintenance team, Eccelsa offers highly reliable technically assistance on the ground. Lastly, Eccelsa Aviation works in partnership with several air taxi companies, which at times account for up to 50 percent of the air traffic arriving at and departing from Olbia Costa Smeralda.
This range of exclusive services and the dedication of the company’s team give some idea as to exactly why Sardinia remains such a popular holiday destination for society’s elite. Eccelsa Aviation guarantees that privacy, luxury and first class service are all a part and parcel of the air travel experience, starting from the very moment that a passenger boards their plane.