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SaxonAir makes step up to global operations with G550 management deal at London Stansted
Norwich, UK-based SaxonAir has entered worldwide aircraft operation as a Gulfstream G550 joins its fleet. The jet commenced operations last month and will be the only G550 type operated from London Stansted airport.
Read this story in our June 2015 printed issue.

Norwich, UK-based SaxonAir has entered worldwide aircraft operation as a Gulfstream G550 joins its fleet. The jet commenced operations last month and will be the only G550 type operated from London Stansted airport. The operator was successful in its application for a worldwide AOC back in Q1 2013, and this contract paves the way for more heavy jet acquisitions in the future. The G550 can accommodate up to 16 passengers with a range of 6,500 nm.

Says group commercial director Chris Mace: “The Gulfstream offers ultimate refinement and is very much the pinnacle of the aircraft charter market. It is a class above its competition on long range flights. Entering another aircraft into the London market also strengthens SaxonAir's presence significantly and joins our other London base at Luton as well as bases at Antwerp, Carlisle and the company's headquarters in Norwich.”

Mace adds that it has always been an ambition of the company to operate long range jets. The SaxonAir fleet now ranges from helicopters to turboprops, light midsize and heavy fixed wing aircraft.

“It is not always easy of course. For operators not already in the heavy jet category it can be difficult to get your first aircraft and to enter that market-place. But often it comes down to the way you operate your existing aircraft, the way that the business is portrayed and demonstrating to the owner that you have the correct skill set in the business to grow into those heavy jets, and the experience with charter sales to transfer them from the rest of the fleet to heavy jet. The principal of selling is just the same, but it is a very different marketplace.

“We have not sold a package to the owner on the basis that it can cover all of their costs. They don't have the expectation that it is going to do so and the owner was happy to buy the aircraft and to charter it a reasonable level themselves. But of course what we can do is demonstrate that if we put quite a number of charter hours on it, then it is going to go a long way to covering the aircraft's costs. There are no expectations for it, we just want to find that balance and mix between the owner's requirements and third party charter.”

Availability is said to be good on the aircraft, as the owner has requested for it to be chartered. “He does quite a lot of long trips, so the aircraft will be racking up a lot of the flying hours over a shorter number of days,” Mace continues. “I would estimate it is going to be about one third owner flying and two thirds charter, which for an aircraft of this size is quite unusual. It is more weighted towards the charter, which is great for the market.

“The worldwide AOC brings with it the difficulty of operating in unusual climates and into countries that have particular regulations and restrictions, so it is a case of understanding the knowledge base around those aspects, which we were able to do. The addition of the Gulfstream has meant that we have employed another four staff members who have that experience of operating larger aircraft and in the more remote parts of the world.”

London Stansted is also a convenient location for the owner, who is resident in East Anglia and often works in London. The positioning of the aircraft is therefore seen as a good compromise.

Mace is confident that long haul could be a thing of the future for SaxonAir. “Now that we are into this market, we are already talking to other owners and I think owners are looking for another credible UK operator, perhaps a smaller operator that can give them the attention to detail and demand for their aircraft. It will certainly lead us into other opportunities.

“We are going to have double sets of crew on the aircraft and it will have the ability to carry three crew, which means that we can do the longer sectors, and then undertake crew swaps during the flight. There are not many G550s available on the charter market, certainly not in the UK. Most of them are across in Russia or in other further parts of Europe, so it is a great opportunity for us.

“Our clientele are willing to pay a little more to travel on the very best, a Gulfstream G550.”

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