July 30, 2008
SaxonAir has ordered a Phenom 100 to complement the operations of its Beechcraft Super King Air 200. Director Chris Mace says the Phenom's low direct operating costs will ensure the Norwich, U.K.-based operator will remain highly competitive in the charter market.
He adds: "The Phenom 100 is scheduled for delivery early 2010 and we are also in discussions with individuals on the management and leaseback of the aircraft." Operations manager James Palmer says: "As a King Air turboprop operator, we find that many clients are using jets for flights other than the shorter haul for additional speed and comfort. At present we sub-charter these jobs out so the acquisition will enable us to keep the trips in-house and with the Phenom 100 offer them out at a price that matches the King Air."
Palmer says that at present aircraft passengers are accepting, and willing to pay, the extra cost of fuel. But he points out: "Obviously the cost of fuel is a lower percentage of overall costs with a VLJ than with airline aircraft, and VLJs are more fuel efficient than older jets within the charter market, so fuel prices will have less of an impact. The Phenom 100 has a cabin equivalent to the Citation CJ1 but benefits from a lower purchase price and operating costs and an advanced maintenance schedule which means these benefits can be passed onto our clients with a lower charter rate, helping us establish a growing customer base."
SaxonAir, launched in April 2007, was originally set-up by md Graeme Kalbraier to provide his own company, Call Connection, with aviation transport for use by both himself and by key company management. Kalbraier knew that his own aircraft could be well utilised in the private charter market when not in use by Call Connection. So Mace and Palmer were appointed to develop and establish the SaxonAir charter business. Mace, a pilot, had already worked within the aviation industry for more than 15 years dealing with the provision of aircraft for major worldwide businesses, industry executives and high profile personalities.
Call Connection is a call handling business, active predominantly in the U.K. motor insurance market. It currently operates a contact centre based in Ipswich with 350 staff and was named as one of the Sunday Times newspaper's 100 best companies to work for in the U.K two years in a row.
SaxonAir manages the King Air from a base at East Midlands as well as from Norwich. "The East Midlands base enables us to react to short-notice flights at any time of the day being a 24-hour airfield and centrally located within England," says Mace. He adds: "One of the pluses of the Phenom 100 is that it cruises at an altitude of 41,000 feet. It also offers an advanced cabin pressurisation system and cruising speeds up to 380 knots."