Among the companies making their EBACE debut this year is Titan Fuels, one of the largest aviation fuel distributors in the U.S. In business since 1975, the North Carolina company is now looking to expand its operations into Europe and beyond through its acquisition last month of Akryl, an aviation fuel reseller with a worldwide digital fuel procurement platform based in Geneva.
While Titan (Booth Y67) fuels a network of more than 500 FBOs in the U.S., the situation in the rest of the world is different from what it is used to, according to Akryl founder Daniel Coetzer, who will serve as CEO of Titan Europe. Outside of North America, fuel is typically provided by airports, fuel companies, or resellers, rather than the FBO-centric model. This deal will allow the expansion of the Titan contract fuel program to U.S.- and Canadian-based customers traveling abroad. “It was ideal for Titan to purchase a local business that knows the business, [and] when the approach from Titan came, it was a perfect fit,” Coetzer told AIN. “Obviously they have their customers in the U.S. which now will have the network in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia.”
A long-time veteran of the European aircraft fueling business, Coetzer began his latest venture, Akryl, in 2020 at the height of the pandemic. Plans to announce the launch at that year’s EBACE were scrapped when the show, like virtually every other in-person event in the world, was canceled.
Despite those headwinds, his company amassed a customer base of approximately 500 aircraft tail numbers that Akryl will bring into the Titan network. Through this agreement, when those aircraft fly to the U.S. they will already be familiar with the Titan brand. The company plans to explore the fueling tenders available at several small airports in Europe to start.
In terms of the record-high fuel prices the industry is experiencing, Coetzer believes the situation will not resolve itself soon. “The fuel price I believe is still going to go a little bit up, I would say another 20 to 30 percent, and then it is going to settle down because I think the Middle East will start to fill the gaps a little.” Coetzer expects the prices to finally begin receding sometime early next year, leaving operators with several more months of pain at the pump.
Though many are promoting the benefits of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), Coetzer notes that the aviation industry is walking a fine line between encouraging and supporting the SAF producers and pursuing near-term sustainability goals.
“The [SAF] supply and the distribution in Europe are very difficult,” he explained. “It’s very rare to find it, and if you find it, it’s very expensive, so I think the best option for business aviation at this time is using carbon offsets as an alternative. It’s not that expensive and the price [of fuel] is already high, so carbon credits add another 10 or 20 cents to the price but, at least you are green and it goes into a carbon offset program.”
As for electrification and hydrogen power on the horizon, while those may eventually provide strong sustainable solutions, Coetzer stated, “but we are still in with oil for a very long time.”