Norwich-headquartered UK charter operator SaxonAir has ushered in 2022 with the addition of four light business jets. This follows the order of a new Leonardo AW109SP Grand New helicopter via UK distributor Sloane Helicopters in December 2020.
The company has also committed to a permanent London Biggin Hill airport presence, supported by Sovereign Business Jets. By way of celebration, on 1 February the company took a Learjet 45, Learjet 40, Learjet 75, Citation CJ1 and a Phenom 300 to the airport to showcase to charter brokers and industry guests.
“We are very pleased with these achievements,” says CEO Alex Durand, who a year ago had questioned whether independent, smaller UK charter companies would be negatively impacted as they grappled with the restrictions and burdensome administration occasioned by Brexit. “A year on we have got through it and emerged with renewed vigour. Brexit may have been challenging, but the pandemic also saw business aviation emerge heroically, getting people home when the airlines stopped, enabling commerce to continue.”
The resilience of the sector was especially evident in the light jet sector, where SaxonAir is active. This category has seen the biggest growth in charter, up 30 per cent from the pre-pandemic winter period and bolstered by newcomers to business aviation.
Over the past 12 months SaxonAir has also explored ways to reduce its carbon footprint. “It makes me proud, as deputy chair of the British Business General Aviation Association, that GA is leading the way in the electrification of aircraft,” he says. The company embarked on a programme to upgrade and make greener its Klyne Business Aviation Centre HQ at Norwich airport, introducing electric car charging points and a lift-sharing scheme for its 50-plus employees. It also teamed with emissions partner Gone West to plant trees in the UK for every business jet and helicopter flight operated, engaging at-risk youths to work as tree planters, in partnership with The Prince's Trust.
SaxonAir has also endorsed Suffolk-based NEBO Air, a company with ambitions to be a sustainable, cost-effective micro airline using the newly UK certificated all-electric Pipistrel Velis aircraft. As such it becomes part of a network of UK and European airfields hoping to create a web of electric aircraft charging facilities. And it has invested in digital technology to enhance its business and maximise security through Make Tech Fly's AvioNexus platform. All parties in the flight management process, whether working off mobile devices or desktops, can receive real time updates and data exchange, and it employs bank level cybersecurity to manage every aspect of a trip.