A 1973 Britten Norman Islander may not have been the sexiest business aircraft on the static, but MD Air founder Nigel Jones-Blackett believes the venerable eight-seater - which has been refurbished with new engines, avionics, interior and landing gear - will appeal to a value-driven charter market of everyone from middle managers to wedding parties. Flying at capacity, a day trip typically works out cheaper than a train or scheduled airline, says the retired medical research entrepreneur, who has been operating Coventry-based MD Air with the single Islander since June.
Charter operator Synergy Aviation was celebrating its fifth birthday at the show, and founder, managing director and captain Glen Heavens is aiming to "replicate what we've done so far" in the next five years. Synergy flies four Beechcraft King Airs from its base at Fairoaks airport in Surrey, and two Cessna CJ2s from Luton. "We're now looking at the next step up in jets, with Hawkers or Cessnas on management contracts," he says.
A scheme to prevent customers losing money if an operator goes out of business after a deposit has been paid was announced at the show by the Baltic Air Charter Association. The facility will allow brokers and end users to lodge deposits in a Royal Bank of Scotland escrow account until 24h before the flight. The move was prompted by the high-profile collapse of charter operator XL Airways in 2008, says BACA chairman Dick Gilbert.
FLAIRJET PHENOM 100
Flairjet had its third Phenom 100 at the show less than a year after becoming Europe's launch operator for the very light jet. The Oxford-based charter operator will take delivery of Europe's first two Phenom 300s later this year. Other aircraft on display at BGAD included Embraer's Lineage 1000 and Cessna's High Sierra luxury variant of the Mustang VLJ.