Empire continues to surge

Paras Dhamecha, managing director, Empire Aviation Group explains how the group is adapting to changing patterns of demand in private aviation.
Managing director, Paras Dhamecha co-founded Empire Aviation Group in 2007
Managing director, Paras Dhamecha co-founded Empire Aviation Group in 2007

How do Empire’s aircraft management services work for customers?
Empire Aviation Group manages global operations covering India, Africa, US, Europe and the Far East. Today, we operate the region’s largest managed fleet of business jets with over 21 aircraft, supported by a team of more than 150 staff worldwide. Successful aircraft owner-manager relationships are built on trust, openness and transparency. Owners take a keen interest in their aircraft and EAG actively encourages working ‘partnerships’ with owners. Our unique ‘asset management’ approach focuses on highly personalised aircraft management services at the core of the company’s operations. EAG helps aircraft owners acquire and optimise their investment by operating and maintaining the aircraft to the manufacturer’s standards required to protect its long-term value.

What kind of services can you provide?
EAG offers a tailored one-stop shop approach to aircraft management and asset management to meet the needs of owners. Protecting the value of aircraft is essential and demands the careful administration of its maintenance records, as per manufacturer specifications.

We also manage all the aircraft insurance requirements, financial documentation and operational services, for total peace of mind. Each aircraft owner is a unique business model, requiring a tailored solution and a highly personalised level of service from a trusted partner. EAG’s managed aircraft represent a balanced mix of first-time buyers/current owners–and from all the major manufacturers. It is more than just buying–it’s a complete and transparent financial model of aircraft ownership. EAG’s aircraft charter services provide clients with an extensive portfolio of aircraft suitable for any business or leisure requirement. The diversity of our fleet provides the charter customer with a range of pricing solutions for their travel needs.

In the current environment, are keeping both margins and utilisation up a possibility? Moreover, how can Empire help aid that?
Business jet charter traffic continued to grow in 2016 with typical missions comprising inbound corporate roadshows, travel to destinations not easily accessible by the commercial airlines. And of course, there is the consistent travel pattern to the typical regional and long haul destinations.

To reach multiple destinations around the entire GCC region, including Doha, Kuwait, Riyadh and Jeddah, or international destinations non-stop, you need an efficient jet, which offers the speed, convenience and flexibility and comfort for any demanding business travel itineraries. It can save the business traveller time and cost for enhanced productivity, along with the privacy factor which business travellers value when hiring their jet. Key trade routes around the GCC and Middle East (especially Riyadh and Jeddah, Saudi Arabia) remain very active, alongside the major European capitals such as London, Geneva and Paris, further afield it tends to be routes such as New York, Shanghai and Tokyo. In the key winter holiday season, the Indian Ocean is perennially popular, with the Maldives and Seychelles heading the list of favourite destinations, alongside the UAE, for inbound/outbound charter passengers.

How have the region’s economics affected your growth?
The drop in the oil price has been a double-edged sword for us because on the one hand, we benefit from lower fuel prices but a lot of the businesses that we deal with are oil-related, and the economies are oil-driven, and so it balances out. From a charter standpoint, things have become a little bit more affordable, and we see more charter business as a result. What has worked well for us is that we looked at opportunities outside the Middle East market and this geographical expansion and diversification has helped us.

How do your many bases around the world affect the rates and proposition you can offer to clients with the new aircraft?
Empire Aviation Group (EAG) is a one-stop shop for integrated private aviation services, offering aircraft sales, aircraft management, aircraft charter, and aircraft finance and insurance. The company focuses on a distinctive asset management approach to private aviation and has assembled a highly experienced team of aviation specialists, led by an experienced owner/management team. Empire Aviation Group now operates an extensive fleet of business jets, with aircraft based in Dubai - UAE, Oman, India, Hong Kong and Nigeria, and has expanded operations across the globe with branches located in India, San Marino, Hong Kong and a dedicated sales office in the USA.
How is Empire reacting to the growth of Internet-based charter brokers such as JetSmarter and others?
Empire Aviation Group also works with global charter brokers, and so we welcome any new player that adds professional charter expertise to the market. Selling ‘empty legs’ is a model that we have seen before and we are watching this with interest, ultimately operators like ourselves benefit from these models as they only give us extra avenues for utilisation on our managed aircraft.

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