The world’s leading aircraft charter broker, Air Charter Service (ACS), has reached sales of $1.8 billion (£1.3bn) for their year ending 31st January 2022, with strong growth and record sales across all divisions. The company’s global presence and diversified business model have proved highly attractive to existing and new customers navigating the travel and logistical issues presented by the pandemic.
The company’s largest division, in terms of charters, was again its private jet division, which saw nearly a 40% increase year on year. This put it at 20% above pre-pandemic levels, compared with the estimated 7.5% growth in flights for the charter sector as a whole compared to pre-pandemic levels, indicating a significant increase in market share.
This growth has been put down to ACS’s ability to source diverse solutions from the market through its global network rather than being restricted by a limited fleet of aircraft. Record numbers of jet cards have been sold with sales 50% higher than pre-pandemic levels and an increase in usage with a doubling of jet card revenues.
Despite the lower charter revenues of business relating to events and leasing to airlines continuing to hurt flight volumes, the company’s group charter division grew 20% in terms of flight volumes year-on-year and is now back up to 93% of pre-pandemic levels.
With many long-haul routes still being reduced or suspended by major scheduled airlines, and periodical surges in the requirement for capacity, the increase in long haul charters arranged by ACS’s Group charter team resulted in revenue growth of 40% year-on-year reaching record levels 10% higher than pre-pandemic. Growth in sport charter business was 35% up year-on-year, and workforce logistics-related business continued to be strong contributing more than 150% compared with pre-pandemic levels.
The cargo division continued to experience unprecedented demand for its services, especially as a result of its substantial Chinese presence (three successful offices) and ability to source passenger aircraft for temporary use as freighters. The well-publicized supply chain issues facing so many industries resulted in high demand for air freight, but with a continued capacity shortage, due to the slow recovery of the scheduled passenger market which previously provided between 50%-70% of global air freight capacity, has driven demand towards charter.
Manufacturers from the automotive, consumer electronics, pharmaceutical, and even textile industries have required unprecedented levels of charter capacity. Whilst it is expected that cargo demand could drop off at some point as the backlog of goods eases, it is impossible to predict either when this will happen or what the fall in demand will be.
Group Chairman Chris Leach said: “At the end of our previous financial year, we predicted that sales would be extremely difficult to maintain at last year’s levels. So, for our team to deliver 45% growth and turn-over $1.8bn, are incredible achievements and the proudest I have felt in the 32 years since I set up Air Charter Service.
“As for the future, and given the current climate, my only prediction would be unpredictability. The first two calendar months of 2022 have continued at the same pace as 2021 and with what visibility we have we believe this will continue through Q1 at least. In such a turbulent world, inevitably there will be a point where the market could materially shift for any of our three main divisions.
However, many of the possible shifts which could potentially impact the results of one division could end up benefiting another. So, our approach has been to invest in strengthening all areas of the business and the benefits of those investments will make us a far stronger business going forward as we prepare for all eventualities.”