Expert Opinion: Selecting the right management company
Ian Austin is the Managing Director of Jet Exchange, the Cambridge UK-based private jet acquisitions, management and charter specialists. In the article below Austin looks at aircraft management, and why it’s critical to choose the correct partner to look after the aircraft.
An aircraft is a significant investment – and one that needs managing effectively.
With a myriad of operators available and hungrily hunting for aircraft to manage, it can be challenging to pick the right one for your specific needs.
However, a few simple questions can help you narrow down the field and pick the perfect partner to handle your new asset.
How important will you be to their business?
It can be tempting to select a large, well-established operator with dozens of aircraft on its books – after all, they will have a proven track record and you would expect them to have a substantial reach.
However, size isn’t everything – and can be a double-edged sword. Your aircraft is a highly personal, high-value asset that deserves due care and attention. An operator that already has 20 or 30 aircraft on its books much like yours is unlikely to see your asset as being particularly special, and therefore may be less inclined to give you the personal touch. Conversely, a smaller operator is likely to invest more time and effort in both you and your asset, giving you a direct line to a true expert – so don’t assume that bigger inherently means better.
What do brokers say about them?
Brokers are the ones with the day-to-day contact with operators and they’ll have a very comprehensive view of the sector. They will also know which operators are reliable and which ones let them down – and given brokers are where operators derive much of their income, that should give you an indication of how you’ll be treated too.
Plus, if a broker has a very positive view of an operator, they are more likely to send business the way of that operator, which in turn means you may be likely to see higher utilisation rates.
Are they realistic about your return on investment?
The sad fact is that no owner will make a profit on chartering out their aircraft – but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it! The income from charter will at least offset some of the costs associated with aircraft ownership. Remember, every moment your jet is on the ground, it’s costing you money. So, ask a potential operator what kinds of returns you can expect on your investment. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
What certifications do they have?
You can only place your aircraft for charter with an operator that already has an AOC, so it should be a given that your choice should have one. However, look beyond the basics and compare that with how you personally may want to use the aircraft.
If you’re a regular global traveller, an operator with a global AOC will be able to handle your requirements much more easily. Those looking to travel to jurisdictions with complex entry requirements should look for operators that have pre-approvals. For instance, are they a US Department of Homeland Security Approved Carrier? If you travel frequently with a pet, do they have approvals from DEFRA? These aren’t necessarily deal-breakers, but do take them into consideration.
How do they manage scheduling?
The critical factor for any jet charter business is reliability, so when a broker makes a booking with a charter company, they want to be sure that the booking will stand with no issues. Therefore, if you are looking to offset your costs through chartering out your aircraft, it can be in your interests to work with an operator that can understands exactly what you want and what the market wants.
The best operators will pay close attention to your requirements to avoid a schedule clash happening in the first place – again, something that is easier for a smaller operator to do, as they have a personal relationship with you.