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5 meetings. 5 Cities. One Day! How do CEOs do it?

Julian Telling, investor and professional pilot, explains.

Rani Singh   |   7th January 2015
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Rani Singh Rani Singh

Rani Singh writes about aviation. She reports on news, foreign affairs, politics and business...
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Julian Telling is an investor, non-executive director and a professional pilot. His time, and that of his clients is of the essence, thus he extols the virtues of Business Aviation in a recent interview with Rani Singh.

With experience in Alternative Investment Market listings, acquisitions, mergers and joint ventures (predominantly in the financial services sector, general insurance and aviation), Captain Julian Telling established the Bristol, UK-based Falcon Group (Sumus Plc.) in the early 1980s. The business was predominantly involved in the retail financial services market, focussing on personal investment management.“I floated my business in 2005 and sold-out in 2008 having set it up in 1983,” Telling elaborates.

He has a portfolio career in both private and public companies, having also chaired a number of audit and remuneration committees. He has interests in a variety of small businesses, ranging from aviation to food manufacturing – but all of this is in addition to being an experienced commercial pilot, flying corporate jets. Telling is the head of training at Bristol Flying Centre and its charter company Centreline Air Charter, where he is an instructor on Citation Jets and King Air aircraft.

Having flown airplanes since he was 16, Telling’s passion is for corporate aviation. “I sent myself back to college in 1989 and obtained a professional license in 1990. I then worked as a flying instructor at weekends.”

Practicalities of Business Aviation

The whole area of Business Aviation will always be contentious as there are always some people who see it as an extravagance, Telling observes. “The reality is, of course, something quite different. There are so many unlauded advantages - some of them not only critically important but potentially lifesaving.” He highlights that every night there is a whole world of medical flights carrying transplant organs to hospitals for patients.

In addition - and drawing from the array of case studies he has observed in his work with Centreline Air Charter - he outlines the tight schedules of those who find Business Aviation beneficial, from engineers flying spare parts aboard business jets to business people and even entertainers.

“Business Aviation is often a necessity for picking up or delivering supplies required to prevent a production line from being disrupted,” he notes. Not everything can wait to fit around the schedule of an Airline. “And just have a look at some of the punishing schedules of those who use Business Aviation; they work in one European City one evening, and they need to be in another by the following day. These people could not manage their pressing schedules without private aviation.

“Last month I flew one well-known businessman who squeezed in five meetings in five European cities within one day,” Telling elaborates. “He could not have achieved this if he had used the scheduled airlines.

“So why wouldn't you use Business Aviation? Your jet operates to your schedule, travelling to the airport of your choice; often to places not served by the airlines."

One of the many advantages of private jets is that you can, within reason, choose your airport - perhaps ones that only private jets can get into.”

Captain Telling talks of CEOs like the one he mentioned above, visiting a minimum of five different stores in five different locations a day, at least two days a week. “This is not untypical,” he notes. “If, for example, a company is looking to open new outlets in a country, they may spend months researching locations and suitable properties. Once the list has been reduced to a few possibilities they will visit and can get a lot done in a day if everything is properly organized.

"The recent announcement of the closure of under-fire UK retailer Tesco’s busy flight department following the corporations over-stated profits seems to have been a knee-jerk reaction to placate shareholders rather than a reasoned business decision.”

Flying in America

Captain Telling has completed a number of transatlantic crossings to and from the United States, delivering airplanes via the northern routes - Iceland, Greenland and Canada. Having flown around the US, he notes some marked differences between the US and Europe. “Fuel is a great deal cheaper in the US,” he elaborates. “Many private jets are also made in the US, so issues with spares and delivery prove to be more economical.

“Overall,” he adds, “the US seems a lot more aviation-friendly with many airports which have very small or no landing fees. In the UK, landing fees at airports such as Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, etc. are over £120 [$190]. Then you usually have mandatory handling fees, so on average, the fees can range between £300 and £1,200 ($470-$1,900]. In the US there is much more competition for the business, and far more choice.”

Selling but Chartering

The bottom line is that the corporate or private jet is an essential part of 21st century business infrastructure, Telling concludes. “Whilst many corporations may have offloaded their flight departments all that happens is that, quite rightly, they just charter.” (This is obviously good news for Centreline.)

Captain Telling is a busy individual and his company is known for its good service. “We believe the actual flight is only the bit in the middle,” he adds. “We try to ensure the smooth transfer from arrival to destination to ensure the passenger experience is unsurpassed.”

More information: www.b-f-c.co.uk

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