The world’s airlines need their passengers to come back. Likewise, business aviation needs to maintain the extraordinary demand it has seen during the summer with the majority of airlines still at only 50% to 70% of capacity.
The ongoing ‘quarantine roulette’ which makes it so hard for operators to plan, is heaping on considerably more pain. Airline punctuality must at least be at a record high. In no other circumstance could you be out of the airport, on your way home, before you were scheduled to land.
Flying with easyJet to Mallorca and getting through Gatwick and Palma Airports in peak August was a breeze. Yet the eerie quietness of the airport terminals and worryingly low load factors is a big concern from an economic and mental health point of view. An estimated 100,000 jobs are feared to be lost from aviation as a result of this pandemic.
As Marc Bailey, CEO of BBGA writes in this issue, experienced aviation leaders (and valuable mentors) face being forced into early retirement. More worryingly, young people are being put off from pursuing an aviation career. That is if Greta Thunberg, Extinction Rebellion and climate change hasn’t influenced them already.more
By Chloe Wilson
“The UK might be a small island on the edge of Europe, but we are an economic powerhouse.”
So stated John Holland-Kaye, CEO of London Heathrow Airport during his keynote speech at the ‘virtual’ Aviation Club UK yesterday ( Wednesday 2 September).
As one of the most connected airports in the world Heathrow is not only vital to the UK’s economic recovery post COVID-19, but it is also helping lead the recovery of the wider aviation industry.
Highlighting that UK’s primary hub lost more than $1 billion in the first half of 2020, Holland-Kaye underlined that airports are capital intensive projects and while “revenues have dried up, costs remain high.” But as a key economic driver the UK’s aviation sector must not be left behind.
While other countries including the US, Germany and France have demonstrated an understanding for the urgent need to support their aviation industries with financial packages, the UK hasn’t offered any specific support for aviation beyond the job retention scheme.
By Jeremy Parkin.
Long-established helicopter appraisers HeliValue$ has used the opportunity of lockdown, and have pivoted their work to appraise helicopters remotely.
From a recent Helicopter Investor Town Hall webinar where both President Jason Kmiecik and Owner Sharon Desfor spoke, it is clear that the company is leading the way in adapting to the situation.
After an initial few weeks of hiatus as the aviation finance industry responded to the sudden stoppage, HeliValue$ soon found their traditional customer base needing appraisal work done, and pivoted their offering to achieve this.
Having previously sent an engineer onsite to perform a physical inspection of a helicopter, the work is now entirely remote - with the obvious savings to the customer (typically a bank, lessor, financier or insurer) not having to pick up the air fares or hotel expenses of going on site.
In 2019, Gabriella Somerville, pioneering founder of charter and sales agency representation business ConnectJets, found herself flat on her back following major surgery. That lengthened hospital stay gave her time to reprioritise, create and narrate a new road map.
“Entrepreneurs are time poor when working on future projects, but they excel when given a problem to solve,” she says, resiliently. Aviation was getting turbulent toward the end of last year, exacerbated by negative (mainstream) press and environmental rebellion, Gabriella reflected. And then, along came the Coronavirus pandemic.
This was the catalyst for determining her new business, ConnectSkies.
With a website set to go live imminently, ConnectSkies is centred on championing technology. It will showcase in an impartial, independent way, the most sustainable aircraft for sale, on the market today.
Women in Aviation International:
By Kelly Murphy.
Owing to Covid-19 and the safety of thousands of participants and volunteers, Women in Aviation International (WAI) has planned its 6th Annual International Girls in Aviation Day as a virtual event on September 26, 2020.
It is also launching a new Aviation for Girls App, sponsored by the U.S. Air Force, available for free and year-round for girls, ages 8-17. The App can be accessed worldwide by visiting the App Store or Google Play and search for WAI Events.
Girls will be inspired by STEM hands-on activities, virtual aviation-related tours, as well as career and aviation book author videos through the app.
Participants can sign-up for a complimentary WAI membership and apply for up to three WAI 2021 scholarships.
Charlotte Wroe set up her independent online travel agency at the end of April 2020, whilst recovering from Covid-19.
“I wanted something new to focus on and importantly, give me some motivation and focus each day. Someone in the industry (via Linkedin) suggested I become an Independent Travel Agent. “I thought I’d give it a go, never expecting anything to come from it, but whilst undergoing training, I got hooked. In just a few months, I’d fully immersed myself in the world of travel planning, arranging staycations in Cornwall to month long, bespoke honeymoons.
It was surprising to get a sizeable team on board so quickly. To date, I’ve recruited and trained up 18 terrific individuals, a diverse group in terms of age and experience. Each of them were struggling having lost their job, or facing the uncertainty of furlough. I completed a mindset matters course as part of my training, and I’m really enjoying the mentoring side, helping them set up their independent travel businesses. It’s good to see they have got their confidence back too, just as I have, doing this,” she notes.
By Paul Eden.
On-demand helicopter charter provider Ascent has announced its intention to begin operations in Thailand before year end.
It’s a bold move in the current climate, but Co-founder and COO Darren T’ng says: “The context of the pandemic has accelerated the need for Ascent solutions. Our users have an increased focus on being able to travel in a more time-efficient, crowd-free and controlled environment.”
Ascent already operates a similar service in the Philippines and T’ng reports encouraging results since its commercial launch a little over a year ago.
“We now fly to more than 17 dedicated locations with a dedicated fleet of nine helicopters, each offering a capacity of between five and 12 passengers.”
Describing the company’s efforts in Thailand, T’ng says: “Operationally, we’re in the beta phase, where we fine tune market-specific operational and customer experience processes. We expect flights to be available to the public by the fourth quarter of 2020, although we’re working relentlessly to shorten this timeframe.
“Users will be able to book on-demand helicopter rides from a dedicated fleet of more than four aircraft, seating up to 10 passengers."
European business aviation users galvanised regional market activity in August, lifting activity 3% above the comparable August period in 2019, the equivalent to 1,845 more sectors flown.
However, according to WINGX`s weekly Global Market Tracker published today, flight hours were down, attesting to the shorter sector trend throughout the recovery.
There was as dip in activity mid-month, coinciding with a raft of unexpected travel quarantines, but by the end of the month, average 7-day daily activity was at 2,344 flights, almost six times the activity at the low point back in April.
Flight hours (jets & Props) from Europe
For the period from April to September, European business aviation activity is still down 34% compared to 2019. That compares favourably to commercial airline traffic, 77% down over the same period.
After serving 10 years as a RAF pilot, Adam entered private aviation, first as a pilot and then in 2008, as an entrepreneur, co-founding PrivateFly, which pioneered online transactions in on-demand charter.
He grew the business over 11 years to become a leading brand in private charter in Europe and the US, and led PrivateFly's acquisition by Directional Aviation in 2018. Adam remains with the group, as CEO of PrivateFly and as a passionate advocate within the industry for innovation in the charter segment.
This lockdown - how has it been for you - personally and professionally?
At PrivateFly we adjusted really well to working from home during lockdown. We already used Zoom and other digital channels to connect with our colleagues in the US, so were used to online meetings. But with everyone working remotely, it was key for me to keep a sense of togetherness. From the start we had an all-company European briefing twice daily. Initially this was operations’ focussed, looking at the fast-changing border restrictions and the challenges these presented. It then evolved into a way for each department to share key updates and daily goals. We keep it brief, but it works well and we're still doing it, even now that some of the team are back in the office.
With as many as 10,000 or more airline pilots facing unemployment this Fall as federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funds run out and airline demand remains severely depressed, many pilots are considering a career transition - to business aviation.
For some, flying private or charter sees a return to their flying roots and familiar territory. For those who have never flown Part 135 or Part 91, however, it could be a rude awakening. The flying experience is similar to airline flying, but the similarities end there.
I have had the pleasure of interviewing, hiring and working with veterans of legacy carriers from American, United, TWA, Delta and Continental, as well as former regional airline pilots and expats at major carriers in Asia and the Middle East. Some were unemployed due to furlough, others became disenchanted with airline life. Others many wanted to continue flying past the mandatory retirement age of 65 in Part 121.
In each interview I have tried to be brutally honest with candidates about the good, the bad and the ugly of business aviation. While there are opportunities to fly state of the art equipment to glamorous destinations with an assortment of prominent passengers in the back, there are some challenges that may come as a surprise.
British engineer Jason Hill has been flying helicopters for nearly 20 years, and has more recently been developing the HX50, five-seat three-blade turbine helicopter that he insists will not be “just another new helicopter”.
He aims to disrupt the helicopter industry at least as much as Tesla has disrupted the car industry with his new business Hill Helicopters, based in Staffordshire.
The HX50, five-seat three-blade turbine helicopter.
This five seat single-turbine helicopter has its first flight scheduled for 2022, with deliveries from 2023. This retractable gear aircraft will bring a significant step-up in style to the market and a cabin size that will seat five people in as much style, comfort and refinement as a high end automobile.
Faradair chose Farnborough’s virtual airshow week to announce Imperial War Museum Duxford as the location of its new headquarters.
The Museum’s long-held ambition to juxtapose modern industry with world-standard aviation heritage makes Faradair and its game-changing hybrid aircraft vision an ideal first partner.
Speaking to Faradair Founder & CEO Neil Cloughley, it’s also abundantly obvious why Duxford is Faradair’s spiritual home. We chatted alongside a Hurricane, that most British of fighting aeroplanes.
At GearUp we are never happier than when we get a storyboard together, assemble our crew and get on the road filming.
We looked back to a great day producing a promotional video for London Oxford Airport. Of course, the star of the show was definitely Iraida the beautiful Afghan hound!
The video is based on a true story. Enjoy watching!
By Paul Eden.
Reginald J Mitchell, famed for his line of exquisite civilian and military Supermarine seaplanes, designed the S.5 racing floatplane for the 1927 Schneider Trophy competition.
First staged in 1913 and named after its founder Jacques Schneider, the competition sought to promote technological development in aviation, but ultimately focussed on speed around a timed closed circuit.
Mitchell’s Sea Lion III biplane won in 1922, but his dramatically different S.4 monoplane suffered a non-fatal accident just prior to the 1925 event. Nonetheless, the aircraft’s layout had proven promising and Mitchell took its basic configuration, reworked largely in metal rather than wood, and with a considerably more powerful engine, to produce the S.5.
How are we going to make UK aviation a global force in the world when we exit the EU on December 31?
The British Business General Aviation Association (hosted by Osprey Flight Solutions) is running a virtual webinar on BREXIT on Tuesday, 22nd September. Open to members and non-members it will look at the challenges surrounding what is likely to be a hard Brexit, where bilateral agreements will be crucial with the UK also coming out of EASA.
The 90-minute webinar running from 11:00hrs to 12:30 hrs will include insight from a cluster of aviation companies, including an aircraft operator and flight training provider. The DfT and UK Civil Aviation Authority have been invited to participate as we address issues such as Unilateral policies; Maintaining global access; Not developing Additional National Requirements; More Stringent measures in security Regulatory oversight in a different Brexit and COVID world.
Delegates will be asked to pose questions/share concerns in advance. More details at www.bbga.aero.
By Marc Bailey, CEO of The British Business and General Aviation Association (BBGA).
It is clear to everyone across the world that the pandemic has severely damaged the shape of aviation.
At best we can hope for a ‘U’ shaped recovery that sees a return to pre-crisis commercial flying around 2023. A more pessimistic model from leading analysts suggests that in 2025 global flying hours will have returned to just 10% below 2019 levels.
Add to that the cultural changes that have swiftly taken hold - the reliance on technology and connectivity, working from home with frequent online meetings, we already have a supplementary shift in attitudes towards travel.
Various Board members tell me they would now prefer three virtual meetings per annum and just one ‘master’ face-to-face meeting. This will save time and money. If you can deliver the necessary governance for your business, or association, it makes sense, for all sectors, not just aviation, affected more than most.
Let’s take a look at the ‘people’ in our industry.
By Liz Danner.
Business aviation continues to show considerably more resilience than commercial airlines during this pandemic, but the message at last week’s Corporate Jet Investor Town Hall was clear - “don’t waste this downturn.”
Rising to the theme on how technology and data can drive the sector forward WINGX Managing Director Richard Koe urged: “Now is the time to innovate.”
The industry has made good efficiency gains, including using business jets on medevac missions and repatriation flights; bigger charter operators opting for floating fleet models. More collaboration, facilitated by increased digitalization is inevitable, but better disciplines around revenue and yield management are required, he noted.
Over the long, truncated summer, charter has been leisure-focused. Now into September we must hope the business travel market comes back. The threat of (Covid-19) infection; nervousness re airports; withered airline traffic; heightened hygiene and sanitization and fewer options in first class (airline) services makes business aviation even more attractive. It will survive, but expect to see some erosion by the small players, Richard warned.
Original disruptor Avinode reported that demand for empty leg charter in August was ‘three times higher than August 2019.’ especially in the very light and light jet sector. Price quotes are getting back to normal. Yet the last few months saw an average 10 to 15% reductions in charter rates, which can’t be sustainable long-term. Heavier jet rates are 10% down.
It’s too early to see how the fourth quarter will be, said Avinode Head of Insights and analytics Harry Clarke, but I’m cautiously optimistic.
By Ian Sheppard
A high-level letter from Lord Davies of Gower, chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for General Aviation (APPG-GA), to UK Housing Minister Robert Jenrick MP has sought to clarify the planning reform outlined by Jenrick’s Department recently, in particular its proposals on new Planning Zones.
The letter is signed from Lord Davies and copied to the Secretary of State for Transport (and former APPG-GA chairman) Grant Shapps, and Kelly Tolhurst, Minister for Aviation, The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG).
In the letter, titled ‘Planning for the Future: Airfields’, Lord Gower states: “The intention to streamline the planning process, speed up decision making and increase certainty is welcomed. However, the way in which policies will be framed for General Aviation (GA) airfields is currently unclear.”
He undelines the contribution of GA to the UK economy, centred on airfields that could come under increased threat if planning laws are eased further to help the economic recovery.
Major economic contribution
Shares UK August bank holiday data.
By Paul Eden.
As spring turned to summer in June, on-demand air charter provider Victor confirmed a 100% increase in bookings for the month compared with May, plus a 70% increase in customer requests.
Regular flyers were undoubtedly travelling again as restrictions lifted, but Victor also reported a significant increase in new clients: 15% more new clients used the company in June 2020, versus June 2019. More than 40% of Victor’s June 2020 flights were booked by new clients.
Victor concurs that with the business aviation industry at large that customers are increasingly looking to the reduced COVID-19 infection risk and efficiency of private jet charter compared with commercial airline travel. The company also emphasises the mandatory 200% carbon offset it ensures on every flight, at no extra cost to the customer, and that the option of using sustainable fuel will be offered to clients - as soon as it becomes available on a sufficiently large scale.
By Chloe Wilson.
As one of the most abundant elements on earth, hydrogen’s potential to fuel the future of climate friendly flying is certainly nothing new. As well as removing carbon dioxide emissions, hydrogen-powered fuel cells have the potential to reduce other greenhouse gas emissions.
However, to offer a viable alternative to aviation fuel a dedicated hydrogen fuelling infrastructure is needed both for production and for distribution at airports across the globe. At the moment that infrastructure doesn’t exist.
Enter Paul Eremenko, a former Chief Technology Officer at Airbus and United Technologies and now co-founder and CEO of Universal Hydrogen. He is on a mission to decarbonise aviation’s carbon emissions crisis and believes he has a comprehensive solution for truly carbon-free flight.
Eremenko co-founded Universal Hydrogen with Jason Chua, who is also COO, as a fuel logistics company making hydrogen-powered commercial flight a near term reality. Universal Hydrogen’s aim is to introduce an efficient way of transporting and storing hydrogen-fuel technology for use in aircraft. The company has developed Kevlar-coated capsule-shaped pods that are seven feet long and three feet in diameter. The pods are filled with hydrogen and double as storage containers for easy transportation via existing freight networks. In addition, the pods can be easily loaded into an aircraft using existing ground handling equipment, eliminating the need for pipelines and underground tank storage at airports.
A special business aircraft delivery took place last week when Formula 1 representatives from Red Bull Racing and Scuderia AlphaTauri took delivery of a HondaJet Elite at Rheinland Air Service RAS’ HQ at Mönchengladbach Airport in Germany.
The aircraft will be used by both teams, which are owned by Red Bull GmbH. Fittingly, their racing cars are powered by Honda engines.
The HondaJet Elite is the latest version of the HA-420, with an increased 1,650 mile range, upgraded Garmin 3000 avionics and an enhanced, quieter cabin.
The transaction was handled by RAS, HondaJet’s exclusive European dealer, authorized service center and approved pilot training centre. RAS instructors also provided the Red Bull flying crew with HondaJet pilot base training. Following the handover, the aircraft flew directly to its new base, Red Bull’s famous Hangar-7 in Salzburg, home to a prized collection of unique fixed wing aircraft and helicopters – some of the greatest aircraft in aviation history.