Prime mover in aircraft financing

Giles Agutter went straight from university into the aviation consultancy world with Prime Aviation, and now spends much of his time assisting Qatar Airways with its fleet development

How did you get involved in the airline industry?

I have had an interest in aviation from a very early age and I always wanted to end up working in the airline industry. While I was at school, I spent time with Rolls-Royce on work experience within its aircraft projects performance department. This certainly gave me an initial taster for working in the industry. I studied aerospace engineering at Manchester University, during which time I also obtained my private pilot's licence. In my last year at university I was introduced to the owner of Prime Aviation, a UK-based airline consultancy and I accepted a job offer to join the company.

What skills does one need for a career in airline consultancy?

I am primarily focused on fleet planning and aircraft financing. Clearly both of these responsibilities require a numerical mindset but also a level of adaptability to meet client requirements. A career in consultancy requires good interpersonal skills as it requires regular communication with a broad spectrum of people.

What constitutes a typical day?

I am very pleased there is no such thing as a typical day. Over the past nine years, since I started work in this industry, I have spent the vast majority of my time providing consultancy services to Qatar Airways.

My job requires me to work on a number of different projects within any given day. A large part of my day is likely to be spent in discussions with global aviation finance banks and law firms as I am responsible for arranging finance for the airline's aircraft acquisitions. I continuously monitor sources of liquidity and talk with new banks to discuss their potential interest in aviation finance.

Based on the number of aircraft being delivered to Qatar, it is likely that at any given time I will also be managing specific financing transactions, to ensure that documentation is agreed and funding is available at the best possible terms in plenty of time for aircraft deliveries. While all this is going on, I may also be involved in some aircraft evaluation work such as evaluating the relative economics of new aircraft or studying the impact of a revised delivery schedule on the airline's fleet plan.

What are the best parts of the job?

I particularly enjoy aircraft deliveries as this represents "crossing the finishing line" for me. I will have worked on the evaluation involved in the selection of the aircraft all the way through to arranging finance before delivery and the actual handover is the culmination of all of this work.

Working with an airline which is growing as fast as Qatar is particularly rewarding as when I started working with the carrier it had only seven aircraft. Now it has over 70, with plans to continue this growth over the coming years. Everybody has the opportunity to have an impact in the success of the company.

And what are the challenges?

The global economic environment presents of challenges. As a result of the credit crunch, aircraft financing has become more difficult as a number of banks have limited liquidity available for lending, although the difficulties being faced by a number of airlines are encouraging the banks to focus their attention on the stronger carriers such as Qatar.

Does the airline industry still excite you?

Without doubt. There are some very exciting new aircraft on the horizon and I am very much looking forward to seeing these aircraft in service. I believe that the industry will find its way through the economic downturn and the dynamic and responsive organisations within the industry will be placed on a strong footing for the eventual upturn.

Source: Flight International