CJI Middle East & Africa: Preparing to ‘outperform the recovery’



The Covid-19 global pandemic has accelerated changes in business aviation that were happening already and now is a good time to prepare to “outperform the recovery”. That was the upbeat assessment from James Hardie, head of regional marketing, EMEA, Information Management Services at Collins Aerospace, in the opening session CJI’s Middle East & Africa 2020 online conference.

“Thinking of this as the now-normal, not the new-normal, is a telling way of looking at the situation,” Hardie told the online conference’s 300-plus delegates. “If there are trends, it is that Covid-19 has advanced what would have taken five years [to accomplish] in just five minutes.”

Examples included the inexorable rise of remote meetings technology and biometric applications to verify identity and provide contactless solutions. While technology, such as Zoom meetings, had become increasingly popular, they would not replace the human factor in business jet transactions, he said.

‘Accelerated some of the changes’

Oliver Tebbit, partner with Watson Farley & Williams, agreed that Covid was quickening changes that were already in evidence before the pandemic. “The experience of the past six months has accelerated some of the changes that would have happened anyway,” he said. For example: companies that formerly required original documents to conduct business jet transactions were now content to use digital data and PDFs.

Everyone was getting used to “a less physically interactive way of getting deals done. That’s a situation that won’t revert”. But Tebbit also agreed that the human factor would remain key to closing transactions. “Aircraft are physical assets, they [prospective owners] want to touch the metal and the leather,” he said.

Hardie said: “The hardest thing would be if all the orders came in at once on Day One of Vaccines – that would create a queue.”

‘Great time to buy’

Preparing for the recovery now would mean industry players were well-placed when the downturn came to an end, said Hardie. “It’s a great time to buy [a business jet]. You can prepare well if you have a long view and have a long intention to be in the industry and are prepared to act now to outperform the recovery,” he concluded.

Meanwhile, in a separate forum, Simon Davies of Global Jet Capital, told delegates aircraft owners are preferring to retain ownership of their planes – despite, or perhaps because of, the global Covid-19 pandemic.

The online conference – Corporate Jet Investor Middle East & Africa 2020 – took place on Wednesday September 16th. You can listen to the free access conference by registering here.