Charting its growth path

Charting its growth path

Charting its growth path

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UK-headquartered Air Charter Services, which completes its 25th anniversary this year, has been growing from strength to strength. On the sidelines of Air Cargo Africa 2015 in Johannesburg, the CEO of the leading aircraft charter specialist
Justin Bowman spoke to Surya Kannoth about their expansion plans and the recently unveiled multi-million dollar investment in information technology.

What is your assessment of the charter business at this point of time?

At the current time, there is a surge in demand for charter capacity especially on the Trans-Pacific routes between Japan and Asia and North America which is being caused by the dock strike or go-slow in the West coast. This has created a surge in demand and every aeroplane that has the capability of flying between North America and Japan is currently chartered until the end of March to carry automotive spares, just-in-time commodities which are required for the American market. That is the real hotspot for the charter market. If we look at the last three months, there has been a steady demand for charters through the last quarter of 2014. We had a record year. We grew ourselves by 43 million pounds so we finished the year on 295 million pounds that’s just under half a billion dollars and we performed 9500 charters, which was an absolute record for us. It has continued onto the second half and is continuing onto the beginning of the new financial year.

Could you share more light on Air Charter Services’ recent multi-million dollar investment in information technology? That’s a project that I am personally overseeing – something that is very close to my heart. It is clear that the industry is going to move towards more of e-commerce over the coming years. And I think it is very important for Air Charter Services as a global service provider to be at the forefront of technology. What are we doing? We are creating apps which will help customers to have more information about the kind of aircraft available for charter; we have launched a new website which has been about a year in the making we are also developing several other innovations. It is very important for us to invest this money in growing the customer experience. At the end of the day, brokers have to add value. So we have to make sure that the experience that our customers have is better than what they can get from our competition. That’s the primary driver of why we are investing heavily on information technology.

Are there any expansion plans in the near future? We are going to be opening a number of new offices in the coming year though we haven’t announced yet where the offices will be opening. But our plan is to open in the coming 12 months an additional three offices. As we globalise, we find it very important to find a local presence in as many markets as possible. People want to deal with providers closeby; they would not like to deal with a service which is potentially two hours away by flight; they would like to know of a local air charter office which is 30 minutes away. That is what is driving us to continue with our globalization objective and we hope to continue to do that in the future.

Africa is considered the last frontier of globalization. What are your views on the continent? I think Africa will be a land of tremendous opportunity for the next 10-20 years for chartering. Firstly, the infrastructure in Africa, the road network is still challenging. One of the things that the charter industry can do is to cut through that barrier by actually operating flights without the problem of customs. We are finding an increasing amount of multimodal traffic that is cargo arriving into Africa on schedule and then being moved onto a charter to make the final delivery into more remote locations. So I think for at least the next 10 years until Africa improves its road networks, improves the speed and efficiency of the borders and customs at these borders then for the charter industry in particular it would be a period of strength. There is so much of investment in Africa that is coming from China; we have an office in Beijing and one in Johannesburg and we are seeing an increasing amount of traffic which is flying from Asia directly into Africa as the Asian companies invest into trying to build their businesses here. I can see the period of next 10 years being that of strong demand within Africa.

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Charting its growth path

Charting its growth path

Charting its growth path

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UK-headquartered Air Charter Services, which completes its 25th anniversary this year, has been growing from strength to strength. On the sidelines of Air Cargo Africa 2015 in Johannesburg, the CEO of the leading aircraft charter specialist Justin Bowman spoke to Surya Kannoth about their expansion plans and the recently unveiled multi-million dollar investment in information technology.
What is your assessment of the charter business at this point of time? At the current time, there is a surge in demand for charter capacity especially on the Trans-Pacific routes between Japan and Asia and North America which is being caused by the dock strike or go-slow in the West coast. This has created a surge in demand and every aeroplane that has the capability of flying between North America and Japan is currently chartered until the end of March to carry automotive spares, just-in-time commodities which are required for the American market. That is the real hotspot for the charter market. If we look at the last three months, there has been a steady demand for charters through the last quarter of 2014. We had a record year. We grew ourselves by 43 million pounds so we finished the year on 295 million pounds that’s just under half a billion dollars and we performed 9500 charters, which was an absolute record for us. It has continued onto the second half and is continuing onto the beginning of the new financial year. Could you share more light on Air Charter Services’ recent multi-million dollar investment in information technology? That’s a project that I am personally overseeing – something that is very close to my heart. It is clear that the industry is going to move towards more of e-commerce over the coming years. And I think it is very important for Air Charter Services as a global service provider to be at the forefront of technology. What are we doing? We are creating apps which will help customers to have more information about the kind of aircraft available for charter; we have launched a new website which has been about a year in the making we are also developing several other innovations. It is very important for us to invest this money in growing the customer experience. At the end of the day, brokers have to add value. So we have to make sure that the experience that our customers have is better than what they can get from our competition. That’s the primary driver of why we are investing heavily on information technology. Are there any expansion plans in the near future? We are going to be opening a number of new offices in the coming year though we haven’t announced yet where the offices will be opening. But our plan is to open in the coming 12 months an additional three offices. As we globalise, we find it very important to find a local presence in as many markets as possible. People want to deal with providers closeby; they would not like to deal with a service which is potentially two hours away by flight; they would like to know of a local air charter office which is 30 minutes away. That is what is driving us to continue with our globalization objective and we hope to continue to do that in the future. Africa is considered the last frontier of globalization. What are your views on the continent? I think Africa will be a land of tremendous opportunity for the next 10-20 years for chartering. Firstly, the infrastructure in Africa, the road network is still challenging. One of the things that the charter industry can do is to cut through that barrier by actually operating flights without the problem of customs. We are finding an increasing amount of multimodal traffic that is cargo arriving into Africa on schedule and then being moved onto a charter to make the final delivery into more remote locations. So I think for at least the next 10 years until Africa improves its road networks, improves the speed and efficiency of the borders and customs at these borders then for the charter industry in particular it would be a period of strength. There is so much of investment in Africa that is coming from China; we have an office in Beijing and one in Johannesburg and we are seeing an increasing amount of traffic which is flying from Asia directly into Africa as the Asian companies invest into trying to build their businesses here. I can see the period of next 10 years being that of strong demand within Africa.
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