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SONAS Aviation closes in on Irish AOC
Whether you lease or buy the aircraft, recently-launched SONAS founder Graham Williamson says Ireland's EJ-registry will help make the best of the post-Brexit landscape. His company's Irish AOC is imminent.
SONAS Aviation CEO Graham Williamson explains how Irish registration can ease EASA operations.

SONAS Aviation, a Shannon, Republic of Ireland-based aircraft charter and management company founded late last year by former TAG Aviation Europe CEO Graham Williamson, is just weeks away from acquiring its Irish AOC. Its first managed aircraft, a Challenger 605, will be available for charter on the Irish EJ-register for corporate aircraft.

“We are reaching out to owners of corporate jets seeking predictability, stability and continuity in these uncertain times,” he says. “The impact of Brexit, with its deal or no deal, its interminable status quo, political uncertainty and its subsequent effects on the aviation community in the United Kingdom, is a real and immediate issue.”

SONAS Aviation is duly offering UK aircraft owners a simple transition for their aircraft to an EASA operation, allowing free movement in Europe and unfettered traffic rights to the 44 countries covered by EU bilateral agreements, including the USA and Canada. “Looking at EASA's newly updated guidance notes, it is difficult to predict how aircraft operated, crewed, registered, maintained or managed from the UK will be affected, and this throws up uncertainty regarding importation, free circulation, certification and licensing,” he continues. “Ireland, with its EJ registry, offers a simple importation and tax environment for owners. It is a renowned and secure legal jurisdiction for financiers and the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) is committed to developing and growing its already strong aviation sector.”

He goes on to suggest that some of what he calls the currently fashionable and established European jurisdictions, such as Malta, are struggling to keep up with the volume of aircraft coming onto their registries. He believes that an alternative jurisdiction, so close to the UK and with an excellent legal, financial and banking fraternity will add to the EJ registry's appeal.

SONAS may be a new company, but behind it sits a management team with decades of aviation experience. Williamson has been joined by former TAG Aviation Europe VP operations Russell Allchorne as COO, and former Eirtech Aviation postholder Keith Brennan as airworthiness director. It is also supported by the Air Law Firm and its founding partner Aoife O'Sullivan, a widely regarded business aviation lawyer.

As well as traditional aircraft management, SONAS Aviation will be offering expertise to clients looking to lease, rather than buy their corporate jets. “Where better to advocate this growing model than in Ireland, home to many established commercial aircraft leasing companies dedicated to the airline sector,” highlights Williamson. He believes operator leases could become the biggest driver in business aviation, especially in the large cabin sector.

SONAS Aviation is not seeking to grow into a large aircraft management company. Rather, it wants to build a close relationship with select clients, build trust and deliver a quality, personal service, maintaining full transparency on costs.

Ahead of its operational start, and drawing on lessons learned, SONAS and its primarily Irish team have created processes for all elements of planning, operations and customer service using harmonised cloud-based systems. “We are committed to offering a simple and seamless transition for clients," Williamson concludes. “We will be limited in the number of aircraft we can absorb in the coming months. First mover advantage is paramount and only those who take control and make the right choice today will be guaranteed continuity of operations, approvals and licences.”

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