Eliot Keynes is executive aviation broking manager with Hunt & Palmer, the largest independent aircraft broking company in Europe. Since its formation in 1986, the London, UK-based company has grown to establish itself as a leading provider of air transport solutions for clients, ranging from long-range Bombardier Challenger jets for small groups of people to Boeing 747s for aircraft loads of automobile dealers or sports teams.

Tell me about your time with the company

I was brought into the company in 1992 to develop business aviation. At that point, Hunt & Palmer was a small operation that concentrated mainly on the UK incentive industry. I was tasked with increasing areas such as short-notice business aviation, which is now one of the strongest parts of our business.

How has the company grown in such a competitive worldwide market?

Factors such as the liberalisation of the European Union restriction on providing passenger services in other member states in 1997 have allowed us to expand. The company has changed beyond recognition since the time I joined, having grown from a team of eight in a small office in London's Oxford Circus to a team of 75, with 17 offices around the world, including Australia, France, Germany, Hong Kong, the Middle East and Russia. We have a strong international presence - more than 50% of our flights don't touch down in the UK.

What factors have driven demand for chartered flights?

Everybody knows scheduled air services are not always ideal for people's itineraries, and can add a lot of time on to people's days. The current security climate at airports has exacerbated that. Our services offer clients unlimited options for fast, efficient travel, which buys them time.

For many of our clients, cost is not the over-riding factor - they are happy to pay for the extra time that using our service will allow. It's not all chief executives and chairmen who are using our executive services we find that large companies are allowing middle managers to benefit from charter.

What kind of people work for Hunt & Palmer?

In business aviation, we have a team of 12 brokers who deal with enquiries and work with our wide-ranging customers. We also have a strong sales force who work hard to ensure we have a constant supply of new clients.

What does the future hold?

We have always looked ahead. In recent years, Russia has been a lucrative market for us and we are well-positioned to build on our strong presence there. We have also recently opened a North American office, which we aim to invigorate and improve our presence in the USA. We need to remain competitive and play to our strengths we have shown that we are as happy transporting one or two people in a journey as we are transporting 20,000 and it is important we maintain that.

For more information, visitwww.huntandpalmer.com

Keynes: joined Hunt & Palmer in 1992 to develop business aviation

Source: Flight International