Dragonfly, founded by Howard Palser in April 2004, is celebrating a decade in business aviation. Based in Cardiff, the company specialises in King Airs and Palser says that his crews have been in the air so often recently that it has been extremely difficult to find a time to mark the anniversary.
“I haven't had the chance to plan anything,” he says. “I'm planning to have a small internal celebration just after Easter. We tried to have champagne with the crew the other night, but half of them were away flying.
“We do have plans for extra aircraft, and these plans are fairly advanced. We are having a very good year. Our performance in March was quite extraordinary in that we doubled the number of hours that we flew in the same period in 2013 and our total activity this year is up 50 per cent.”
Palser attributes the company's recent triumphs to a combination of a stronger economy and Dragonfly's steadily growing reputation. Additionally, some of his competitors have had issues in losing aircraft, which he feels may have had a positive effect. A third King Air is top of his wish list: “If we had a third King Air then we would be able to manage the demand that we currently have, and have some scope to increase that.
“Additionally we are looking to take on a jet. This is our medium term strategy.”
Dragonfly conducts a significant proportion of its business from France, using French brokers, and this is another branch of the business which has been on the rise. Palser points out that during the recession, corporate hospitality fell by the wayside, but has seen this change in the wake of the recent Six Nations rugby tournament: “This year, based in Cardiff, we did a lot of flights to the rugby in Dublin, and similarly with the Wales versus France match. We had four separate flights where we picked up people in France and brought them over.”
He goes on to say that if there was one good thing to come out of the recession it was the stability of pilot employment. “Before long we will be back to the bad old days of pilots leaving and moving to other jobs! But that is how it is; aviation is always a series of stepping stones for pilots as they progress their career, and it's very helpful for pilots to get time on a King Air and gain some turbine time, before stepping up into something larger.”
He is thankful to his staff, clients and brokers for their shared role in Dragonfly's success in the turboprop sector of the charter market. “We look forward to what promises to be another exciting time as we build on the platform we have achieved to date,” he concludes.