A year can be a long time in business aviation, especially for Amber Aviation which officially launched during the 2017 Asian Business Aviation Conference & Exhibition (ABACE).
Twelve months after launching, the Shenzhen-based company returned to ABACE with six aircraft already under management and a further two contracts at the signing stage.
When Corporate Jet Investor originally spoke with Amber in September 2017, the firm was still in the process of being set up.
It had been formed from the remnants of Business Aviation Asia (BAA), which were bought out by Minsheng International Jet in 2014. Minsheng saw Hong Kong-based BAA as a way of spreading its risk away from the Chinese mainland, so acquired BAA as a way of diversifying its interests.
But by the end of 2016 BAA’s chairman Chang Qiu Sheng had left combined company, and it did not take long for the rest of the management team to follow him.
Although there was not a plan in place to start a new company, Vicky Tsui, the former director of sales and marketing for BAA and now the vice president of sales and marketing/customer service at Amber Aviation, says that once Mr Chang had left, it was natural that the rest of the team would follow him.
“All of us have loyalty to Mr Chang, so there was no question that, of course, we would follow him.” Said Ms. Tsui.
This respect for Mr Chang is felt not only at Amber Aviation, but outside the company as well. During the charter gold rush in China, when many a company was set up offering charter services, BAA offered aircraft management as well, becoming one of the first greater-China companies to offer this.
Returning to ABACE this year, this time with a booth, Ms. Tsui says Amber Aviation had many visitors, curious to see what Mr Chang was up to now. “Many people visited our booth because they know about our Chairman Mr Chang. He is the pioneer of this industry, he is famous and he did a very beautiful job when he was with BAA. So many people came here to say ‘hello’, and to learn about Amber and what we are doing.”
For Ms Tsui, the ability to differentiate Amber Aviation from other management companies was crucial. From her experience in BAA she knew that herself and the rest of the team were often asked what a management company did, and how the clients money was being spent, so she came up with the idea of creating a smartphone application that could hold all of that information.
“People always want to know what management companies are doing, how we actually manage their aircraft, what are the costs and where we spend the money. But for the owner, it’s very difficult to find out this information, they spend a lot of time talking to their management company, and often the information they received is not entirely correct.”
The introduction of the app falls in line with Amber Aviation’s policy of total transparency. As well as giving owners a one-stop-shop to be able track where their aircraft have been, it also allows users to be able to track how much money has been spent on fuel, landing and parking charges, as well as on catering.
As well as being able to track past flights and past spending, the app also gives information on upcoming trips as well. It it gives airport information, as well as the stages any permit applications are at, as well as the catering menu and a dedicated customer support contact. For Amber’s management clients, the app provides all the information they could need, immediately and at their fingertips.
Although the app is still in its initial stages, Amber has begun showing it to potential clients, with very positive results. “Even our potential customers, when they see the app they say ‘OK I really want to use the Amber management service’. Because nobody does this, we are the first ones.”
For aircraft owners, the ability to have all the information about their aircraft and their trips could make the difference between keeping a client and their moving to another management company.
“It is a big challenge, too, because we cannot do anything wrong. Because if we do, it will show in the app.” Adds Ms. Tsui.
The app forms part of the Amber Aviation platform, which is slowly being rolled out.
The idea behind the platform came from the realisation that to grow and gain greater market share, the company needed to focus on other parts of the business jet market, not just on aircraft management.
As the business evolved in its early stages, it became clear that the Amber team has a multitude of different specialties, all of which could be leveraged to help not only the company grow, but also the industry as a whole.
That’s why the Amber platform is available to other companies as well, not just to its management clients.
When Corporate Jet Investor originally spoke to Amber Aviation the company had just received its Air Operators Certificate (AOC), which it had been awarded in record time. The experience gained during this process, along with the experience of previous AOC applications, will form part of Amber’s consultancy offering, where the company will help set up AOCs on behalf of other companies.
Other parts of the platform include operational support. Getting arrival and departure slots in Hong Kong can be tricky, but this is something that Ms. Tsui says that Amber is very good at, adding that other operators are already using this part of the platform.
Amber Aviation has created a one-stop shop, not only for aircraft owners under management through its app, but also for the industry as well. As the team grows, the skills set within the company will grow as well, which in turn will help grow the platform offering.
And for Amber, that’s crucial. In a crowded market Amber has moved to ensure that it stands out from the competition, not only by offering something new but also by diversifying its interests to ensure it can continue to grow and evolve.
“We have to do something different, we have to stand out. As a new company we have to do something to stand out. In this industry, you can see the big well known companies, and if they want to do something new it is quite difficult for them. Because they would need to change their organisation, their culture and their structure, so it is quite difficult for them. But we are brand new, we break all things and then build up something new. It is quite easy for Amber.” Says Ms Tsui.