Sunday, December 28, 2014

Ontario, Canada: Flying from London to that corporate event or critical meeting, just got a little easier

A new jet charter business, London Private Jet, has opened in the city, offering business a local option to avoid crowded airports and inconvenient schedules.

Jackie Charabin, managing partner in ADJ Holdings Ltd., which operates the service, opened the jet-leasing business with her sister, Diana House, in September.

They’ve had about four rentals a month, mostly out of Toronto and Hamilton, at a cost of $4,000 an hour, Charabin said.

It’s not a bad start, but she hopes to build the brand.

“We saw an opportunity here in London and we decided to give it a try,” she said.

“We offer private charters. A business could call in, wanting to go from London to Oklahoma and to visit a manufacturing plant in Georgia on the way back.”

The business is owned by Andrew Charabin, owner of ADJ Holdings Ltd. and father to the sisters. He owned and operated Advanced Manufacturing Technologies until he sold it in 2012 to a large U.S.-based firm.

After selling, Andrew bought into an air cargo business in Hamilton and is now in talks to sell it.

However, he’s keeping a five-passenger Gulfstream G100 jet that was part of the cargo business.

Enter the sisters trying their hand at a charter service.

“We have looked at the demographics of London,” said Charabin. “There are more than 500 medium to large businesses (here). We think it will work here.”

The plane is maintained and housed in Hamilton, but the business is operated out of London.

Charabin is shooting for about 20 hours of charter business monthly to make the business viable.

“The margins are not huge, but there is good value in the service we offer,” she said.

The business could be in for a bumpy flight, suggests Graham Casson, chair of the aviation program at Fanshawe College, who also owned a jet-leasing business.

The charter jet sector is dominated by a few established Toronto layers and is still feeling the impact of the economic downturn, he said. Most industries haven’t added charter flights to their budgets. “It’s a very challenging sector — sales and transactions in that market are still difficult.”

Only now have aircraft sales reached 2008 levels and business jet manufacturers have seen sales drop by half, with some players declaring bankruptcy and taken over by larger ones, he added.

But Mike Seabrook, chief executive of London International Airport, said he sees private charter jets on his tarmac daily and wonders why a London company can’t get a piece of that action.

“There is a healthy corporate sector in and out of here,” he said. “We can have four to 10 chartered jets a day. I think they (London Private Jet) have a legitimate shot.” 

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