Action in Dubai
On Sunday night several hundred business jet market leaders gathered in Dubai. They were there to pay tribute to Hamish Harding, the founder and chair of broker-dealer Action Aviation. Harding died in the Titan submersible implosion on June 18th.
The tribute took place on the eve of the Dubai Airshow (which is becoming increasingly important to business aviation). Some guests, however, flew in just for the Action Aviation event. It took place in Dubai’s newest and fanciest hotel: Atlantis The Royal.
“One of the saddest things is that he would have been blown away by all of you being here with him tonight,” said Aoife O’Sullivan, partner at The Air Law Firm, in a touching speech.
O’Sullivan told stories of how Harding had been so excited to find a spot with cell phone coverage while climbing Kilimanjaro and how he sent WhatsApp messages about a deal while flying over the South Pole during his world-record flight circumnavigating the world.
“The man never stopped working. He was incredible,” said O’Sullivan. “It’s a little bit like we all took it for granted. It was just normal to be dealing with somebody who does this. I keep asking the question, ‘Where did he get the time?’”
As well as bringing together so many of Harding’s friends, the event also highlighted how Action Aviation is still very much in business. Mark Butler, who has worked at the company for more than 15 years, has become chief executive.
“In the early days, there was no way we could see that the business would grow as well. Never did we think we would own a Boeing Business Jet or Gulfstream and other aircraft,” said Butler.
Butler added: “I made a promise to Hamish before every expedition that I would continue the company and look after the team, look after the family and make sure Action Aviation would continue.”
Frederic Dubant, who joined Action Aviation in 2021 after working at Comlux and Airbus, has become managing director. Butler praised O’Sullivan, Dubant and the Action Aviation team for everything they have done since Harding died. The brokerage closed one deal just days after Harding went missing and has continued to be active since then.
“Hamish would have been very proud of the deals that the team have done and would have been very excited to see the Action Aviation BBJ on the static display at the Dubai Airshow,” said Butler.
He said that Hamish had created his own design scheme for the outside of the Boeing Business Jet. Butler did admit that it “might have been mildly copied of the Boeing scheme.”
During the Dubai Airshow the aircraft was visited by a royal delegation from Dubai. Harding would have loved that as well.
Jorge Colindres, founder and executive chairman of both The Registry of Aruba and the San Marino Aircraft Registry, reminded everyone of how Harding had been involved in flying the first business jets to Antarctica. Other speakers touched on Harding’s attitude to risk and his private work for charity.
Butler made it clear that Action Aviation is going to keep his legacy alive through transactions.
“Tonight is a celebration. Hamish would want you all to drink, eat and make new friends,” said Butler. “And most of all do some deals. Preferably through us.”
Meanwhile, read our tribute to Hamish Harding published in the latest edition of Corporate Jet Investor Quarterly here.
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