I'm not in the habit of buying aviation stock (tends to be a bit too close to home) but once in a while I cover a story and know I should be getting a piece of the action. One was the flotation in the mid-1990s of what was then Air London and became Air Partner. Actually if you'd bought the stock a year ago you'd be more than happy. But anyway this great financial story is highly informative about what's going on in air travel.
Air Partner is essentially the business aviation world in miniature - it makes its living out of offering an alternative to the airlines to wealthy individuals, businesses, and governments.
Not bad eh? And a fantastic record for CEO David Savile (who's exactly my age and whose progress I've followed as a sort-of respectable stalker ever since I met him at the flotation), and for chairman Tony Mack who basically created the thing. Beyond one handshake at a press conference I don't know Mack, but he understands customer-focus like few people I've ever met and I had some of his words of wisdom on a sheet of paper pinned over my desk when we were launching Air Transport Intelligence. Kept us on track.
But I digress (yet again). Announcing the results today, and after conceding that the year featured "near-perfect trading conditions", Savile said: "There is much debate whether today's unprecedented private jet demand, driven by the ever-deteriorating scheduled air experience, oppressive and intrusive airport security, and rising personal wealth is a transient phenomenon awaiting the next cycle, or whether there has been a sea-change in users' attitude and today's demand is to become the norm. Anecdotal evidence from both the users and the industry itself supports the latter view, and the Group's focus remains on sustained growth. However Air Partner is prepared for either eventuality and is confident that it can perform well in either scenario."
There was much talk immediately post-911 that business aviation manufacturers would benefit. It didn't really happen in the short term, but it just took a bit longer than expected, and the mechanism was a bit different. Business aviation is still much less mature in Europe than in the US, and in Asia it's only embryonic. It's a great sector to be in.