Jamie Martin is Hunt&Palmer”s Director of Corporate Development and one of three founding members of the air charter solutions company.
From its humble beginnings as three aviation experts operating from an attic room in 1986, Hunt&Palmer now employs 75 people in 15 worldwide offices across four continents.
How has the private charter industry changed in 21 years of business?
When Hunt&Palmer began life the air charter industry was in its fledgling stages. Nowadays, the demand for private charter solutions is booming thanks to a complete change in mind-set and values that have created a whole new set of markets.
With more than 1,000 new business jet deliveries last year, demand has hit a record high, meaning that as a charter provider we have access to a growing range of aircraft options to service our increasingly discerning clientele. It is now possible to access chartered aircraft or charter products almost anywhere in the world by one call to a local Hunt&Palmer office. Some 21 years ago we could not even send a UK aircraft on a flight from Paris to Madrid!
Is private charter really a commercially viable option for the business traveller?
Whether it”s arranging air charter ”road show” solutions for financial institutions during public offerings or point to point travel for a CEO, private charter is certainly a financially viable alternative to scheduled travel and sometimes the only practical option for our clients.
While a return flight to say New York, may be more suited to a scheduled service (with the possibility of undertaking private charter flights within the US upon arrival), for those looking to undertake a time-sensitive multi-centre itinerary around for example, Europe”s financial hotspots, private charter is by far the most cost-effective solution when the true costs of time and flexibility are factored in.
Daily contact with worldwide operators together with our problem-solving abilities means we have access to the most competitive charter rates and solutions that seriously challenge the cost of multiple scheduled services.
What do you see as the major benefits of private charter compared to scheduled services?
We work in a 24/7 fast-paced world and the inflexibility of scheduled services just cannot service our clients” needs. Increasing security issues and scheduled air delays has resulted in companies using our services for everyone from CEOs to middle management in a bid to avoid the hassle and inconvenience of flying through congested airports. Moreover, private charter offers the ability to book a flight at the eleventh hour, which is an absolutely essential convenience in today”s global economy.
In terms of benefits, more than 90% of the world”s airports are only accessible by private aircraft, meaning we can offer exclusive departures away from the main hubs. A quick check-in procedure that can take as little as ten minutes from arrival to boarding ensures extensive time-saving and increased productivity for executives who escape the lengthy check-in, security and baggage procedures, which even Fast Track cannot avoid. Once on-board, many of our clients use the time to hold meetings, business lunches, or catch up on work - dependent on the type of aircraft they choose, the possibilities are endless.
What are the most popular routes/requests?
For business travellers, the European financial centres such as Paris, Geneva and Zurich are busy routes ” often covered as a multi-centre itinerary in one day.
Do you see the current financial climate and talk of a ”credit crunch” affecting demand for your services?
There is no doubt that the ”credit crunch” has affected the level of demand from the European and US international financial communities. However, increased Petrodollar activity in the Middle East, sought from the Sovereign Wealth funds, is significantly changing global travel patterns. And, as the Asia region grows in wealth and economic activity its use of executive aviation is also rapidly increasing - there are now more IPO”s in Asia than in America!
What is the benefit of using a charter company like Hunt&Palmer compared to fractional ownership/loyalty card schemes offered by other operators?
Aircraft ownership, fractional ownership and hour card schemes have their place but have not displaced ad hoc charter which very often provides a greater choice of aircraft and a better economic result. The key benefit of using an air charter solutions provider like Hunt&Palmer is that all-important flexibility.
We offer access to the full range of executive aircraft and global departure points as well as independent advice on the most suitable option with absolutely no financial ties or ”small print”. Extra services like 24-hour Flight Watch mean we are able to respond immediately to urgent requests by locating aircraft anywhere in the world at short notice.
Where do your think the world of private charter will go next?
Private charter mirrors the growth of travel generally, that is to say it is faster than most other sectors of business with tremendous opportunities in the new and developing economies. Hunt&Palmer expects to play a part in bringing the benefits of private charter to these markets during the next few years.
In the UK and in key worldwide financial centres, the increase in personal wealth also means corporate clients are increasingly using our services to maximise both their business and leisure time and we are seeing a rapid increase in such requests, be it a last minute family ski trip to St Moritz or a long-haul charter to safari in Namibia.
On the aircraft front, the launch of the much anticipated VLJ (Very Light Jet) which retails from around ”1 million, could offer interesting possibilities for the charter market. Watch this space!