Charter broker Air Partner describes business as encouraging in a "very difficult trading environment", especially in private jet and freight broking, but says economic conditions are providing too little visibility to indicate future financial performance.

Further to an interim statement, CFO Gavin Charles told Flightglobal the company regards the consensus view of analysts that 2011-12 pre-tax profit would fall in the £4.5-5 million range as "sensible". Two months ago, Air Partner reported strong gains in revenue and pre-tax profit for its year to 31 July, to £282 million and £5.3 million respectively.

Air Partner's 2010-11 revenue was up 23%, as charter demand for repatriation flights surged during the Arab Spring uprisings. The Japanese earthquake and tsunami also lifted demand, and Air Partner found itself well-placed to win a large number of contracts early in the period, when the supply of widebody jets was constrained.

But, said Charles, those factors are "not easily reproducible", so it is not surprising, for example, that corporate jet broking revenue is running behind last year's.

However, he said, Air Partner's performance has improved since it put its flight operating arm into administration in early 2010, ending an unsuccessful diversification that had turned management attention away from the core business.

He added that while economic conditions may be unpredictable, some aspects of Air Partner's business can thrive in a downturn. For example, many jet owners become charterers, and governments often turn to charter rather than expanding owned fleets, he said.

Source: Flight International