February 13, 2012 Leave a comment
I founded Exec Air Charter Ltd in 2006 at a time when the economy was booming and business was relatively easy to find.
In those days of big international mergers and acquisitions, the private air charter business was widely regarded as a good barometer of how well luxury markets and high net worth individuals were behaving. The same is true today.
So is there really a recession at the top end of the market?
There is no doubt that the world economy is depressed, but there are clear signs that the luxury markets are, to a large extent, immune from recession and are actually recording growth.I read with great interest last week of reports that Rolls-Royce car sales are booming, as are Bentley’s – they posted a 37% rise in global sales – with good performance in China and the U.S.
These numbers demonstrate exports and foreign business will play an important role in moving the UK out of this recession, as well as keeping certain business heads above the water. For me, 2011 was a very interesting year.
In the early part of the year, I saw steady growth from regular travel patterns in business and winter sports.
Then, like others in the global travel industry, we felt the impact of the ‘Arab Spring’, with political instability in those parts of the world leading to a marked reduction in travel.
The Summer charter demand remained strong, driven largely by Russians travelling around Europe and the Mediterranean.
August brought about a slight dip in demand for ‘light jets’, which suggests that European travellers were using charters services less often.
However, those effects were offset to some extent by an increase in demand on heavier sized jet charters – again mainly driven by the Russian business traveller – and an upturn in demand for more economical super-light jets.
The good news today is that demand levels have increased on those last seen as far back as 2009, which signals a healthier market.
We are already seeing encouraging signs of a busy January 2012, which is traditionally a slow month.
That said, Europe is up 37% on demand from this time last year; an interesting development considering the Eurozone issues so often referred to in the daily media.
In the early part of the year, I saw steady growth from regular travel patterns in business and winter sports. Then, like others in the global travel industry, we felt the impact of the ‘Arab Spring’, with political instability in those parts of the world leading to a marked reduction in travel.
I am increasingly confident that 2012 will be a better year for the luxury sector than the last one, with demand continuing to come from foreign business as the UK economy moves more slowly – a fact borne out by the luxury car business and my sector, private air charter.
With that said I am confident of better times ahead for the UK and I am putting my money where my mouth is and launching a second business – http://www.xclusivetravelclub.com – aimed at growing demand for exciting luxury travel products and services.
In any recession businesses like mine have to fight hard for customers and that should simply mean better customer service and better value.
And on that premise I’m looking forward to a busy 2012.