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Pushing Boundaries

What’s it really like out there?

This past month- World Aircraft Sales Magazine asked Mark Green- a Director of UK air charter brokerage company Oxygen4 Aviation- whether he could give some straight answers to what is really going on in the business aviation market.

Most of his business emanates from Russia- and he says that a year ago his total business split was 60% Russian and 40% the rest of the world. “At the present I would suggest that about 80% of our business is Russian- that’s not because the Russians have increased their business volume- but because other companies have dropped away-” he observed.

Rumors abound about how savagely business aviation movements have dropped at the Moscow airports. Green says he had heard the rumors of large movement decreases- but thought they were exaggerated- offering his own example. “January 2nd is historically Russia’s busiest day of the year as it’s the start of the Russian Christmas period and everyone travels.

“Last year there were 180 movements in the busiest five hour period- while this year the number was around 180 for the entire day.” He attributes some loss of Vnukovo movements to ‘significantly increased charges’ there- however.

On the day of the interview two of Oxygen4’s brokered charters were airborne; one- a Challenger 605 business jet- was flying from the European Alps to Moscow for a Russian client while the other (a Falcon 900) was flying from Florida to Denver for an American client. “It might sound crazy for an American client to phone us in the UK to book a flight in the U.S. for him-” said Green- “but everything comes down to trust. The nature of what we do is bespoke - so we supply whatever the client needs.”

Despite business being flat both in the U.K. and U.S. there is a strong glimmer of hope for U.K. business jet operators because of the great swing in value of the Euro versus the struggling Sterling. “The nature of the exchange rate that brought the Euro close to parity with Sterling has made it more competitive to hire a British-based aircraft from say TAG Aviation or London Executive Aviation which are seeing increased business from us because of the high value of the Euro-” Green revealed.

The price of chartering aircraft is slowly getting a little less expensive because of cheaper fuel- “It’s definitely a charter buyers’ market at the moment. Operators are lowering their prices to compete. For example- previously a Challenger flight from London to Moscow would have cost nearer €40-000- nowadays you will pick this up comfortably for €35-000-” he said.

“I would suggest that we now have an over-capacity of business jets in Europe. Certainly 12-18 months ago it was tough getting a next day flight for a client. You might have had to call ten charter operators to find only one or two of them with availability. Today you could call the same ten operators and find that more than half of them had capacity in one shape or form.

“In my opinion its going to be a rocky road for some companies in the coming months- but I think perhaps in six months time the market will see consolidation within the industry- which won’t do it any harm. That way clients will get a better service-” he added.

Of Oxygen4- Green says that the company is investigating the potential of the Asian market- and exploratory work is progressing nicely. His company is involved in a small way in the fairly new Indian market- which- within the last 6-8 months has progressed well. “The Indian elections are generating a lot of business aviation activity in the form of road shows- and people are tending not to use larger aircraft despite the wealth that is there.

“A lot of the markets in Asia have ties to Europe so we are hoping to pick-up international work into India as well as other regions.”

Green adds his company has steered away from opening a Moscow office but company representatives fly over there regularly. The fact that we are actually displaced from the Russian market geographically- does- I believe actually help our situation. We have representatives there to ensure smooth running of all our flights.

He says that the reason for his company’s success over its short four year history is that it is closely focused on core clients as opposed to ‘scatter gunning’ the entire market to pick up a bit of business.

Independently-owned by Green and two other directors - Steven Jack and Rod Glassford - with its headquarters in West Sussex in the U.K.- Oxygen4 also has offices at the famous Pinewood film studios near London and in Hollywood- Los Angeles.

More information from www.oxygen-4.com

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