Currently based in Switzerland, Jahid Fazal-Karim says he’s been working in the aircraft industry “since forever.” Having graduated from Cranfield University with a degree in air transport management, and held senior positions at Airbus and Bombardier, Fazal-Karim left to start his own business in 2008.
Acquiring a 50 per cent stake in Jetcraft, he’s seen the market peter out and then regain some of its strength. Speaking about the lessons he’s learned throughout his career, he says: “It’s better when you work with people you trust. Sometimes we try to do too much and end up working with people who aren’t right.”
How has the market changed since you joined Jetcraft?
“We had a very good year in 2008, but things got quiet in 2009 and 2010. The market is not as good as it was before the crisis, but we had a record year in 2011, and 2012 has started off pretty well so far. The key is to be involved with all the markets, so you can weather the downturns and ride the up cycle.”
What do you most enjoy about selling aircraft?
“Each transaction is very different and no customer is ever the same. On any given day, I will be speaking to a multitude of people from different backgrounds and with different needs.”
What makes a good broker?
“There are two things. Firstly, it depends how much you listen to your client and secondly, it’s the relationships that you create. It’s a relationship business and the difference between two or three brokers working for the same client is who can establish the best relationship.”
Would you be doing if you weren’t an aircraft broker?
“I have always liked numbers, so if I was not in airplanes at all I would be in finance.”
How many aircraft do you sell per year?
“In 2011, we made approximately $880 million from 54 sales. This year, we’re aiming for 60-65 transactions. We want to exceed $1 billion sales.”
What advice would you give to someone starting out?
“If someone really wants to get into the business, you need to get yourself experience either with a major broker or with a manufacturer, and establish relationships. You almost have to have maybe five clients already that will help you set up.”
What should you avoid doing?
“Do not make promises you cannot fulfil. Do not try to buy or sell an airplane which you do not control. You have two or three intermediaries between you and client, which makes it very hard to do a proper job.”