SONAS Aviation CEO Graham Williamson is delighted that his one-year-old charter and management business has been awarded an Irish AOC. The decision came on 5 April, two weeks into the lockdown, so he will be delaying the celebrations until restrictions are lifted. “Inspectors from the Irish Aviation Authority had to come into our Shannon office, while socially distancing, to finalise the paperwork and hand over the certificate. They were brilliantly helpful,” he says.
The rest of April was busy; the operator's initial EJ-registered but London-based Challenger 605 was despatched on repatriation charter flights to multiple locations. One charter involved an essential business flight transporting personnel and equipment for a company to Africa. The group was new to private charter, but appreciated the convenience, ease and comfort and has since recommended SONAS to other colleagues in its sector.
“We were a little quieter in May but still flew 57 hours.,” Williamson explains. “Lockdown measures diminish every day, and we are seeing good forward bookings into June and July. As I see it, business aviation is looking to be the smart option for the summer. We needed something to demonstrate our value and the situation we find ourselves in today is it.”
SONAS will be introducing a second Challenger 605 next month, also on the Irish register, under management and also fully available for charter based in the UK.
While recent events have overshadowed the Brexit challenges, Williamson says they have not gone away. “Having your aircraft registered or operated by an Irish AOC holder offers significant advantages. Among them are efficient importation of private and corporate aircraft into the EU, a simple tax environment, a respected and secure jurisdiction for financiers and the familiarity and transparency of an English language legal system that will remain stable after the UK leaves the EU.”
SONAS Aviation is offering 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.
Ireland is a jurisdiction where aviation is a familiar and recognised industry and a skilled workforce already exists.
The EJ register is a relatively new Irish aircraft register for business and corporate aircraft. It seeks to build on Ireland's reputation and know-how to offer an attractive registry solution for business and corporate aircraft. Administered by the Irish Aviation Authority, the EJ register offers a range of advantages to aircraft owners and operators. This alternative jurisdiction, so close to the UK, with an excellent legal, finance and banking fraternity adds to the EJ appeal, according to Williamson.