Air Partner expects pre-tax profit of at least £5.8m ($7.6 million)

By Doug Gollan, February 26, 2019

JetCard customers increased by double digits while overall private jet charter was flat

Global aviation services group Air Partner today provided a trading update for the year ended 31 January 2019. The company said its Charter division “performed well” with “strong performance in Freight and Commercial Jets.”  Its private jet charter performance was flat although its JetCard jet card customer count grew by double digits.

According to a written release, Air Partner expects to announce underlying profit before tax of not less than £5.8m ($7.6 million) for the 12 months to 31 January 2019. It said the results come despite the challenges in the first half of the year. The company endured a multi-months accounting review and had to restate figures after discovering an error from a previous period. In addition to investing in its financial protocols, the company said it invested by opening a Los Angeles office and increasing in its New York office. It said both locations are performing in line with expectations.

Robust performance

“This is a robust performance for the 12 months ended 31 January 2019 despite the challenges we faced in the early part of the year with the accounting review. I would like to express my sincerest thanks to our customers for their continued support and the business they entrust us with, and to my colleagues for their unwavering focus and dedication to customer service,” said CEO Mark Briffa in a written statement.

Air Partner remains a buy

Gerald Khoo, an analyst who covers Air Partner for Liberium wrote, “Underlying trading has been broadly encouraging. In the Charter division, there were strong performances in Commercial Jets, Freight and the US.” However, he added, “Trading in Private Jets in the UK and Europe has been more mixed, with flying activity from some key clients remaining subdued in H2. Consulting & Training continues to have a strong pipeline, with new contract wins to support future growth.” He continues to rate Air Partner as a buy, although he noted, “The FY pre-close update flagged management guidance for January 2019E underlying PBT of not less than £5.8m, which is below consensus (£6.1m) and our forecast (£6.2m).”

Organic Growth and Acquisitions both in play

Looking towards the future, the company said, “In line with our clear growth strategy, the Board continues to assess investment opportunities, both organic and acquisition, to enhance or extend the service and capabilities we offer our customers, which will ultimately strengthen and advance our business.”

It also noted, “As we always state, the global charter business has consistently been, and will continue to be, a volatile industry. Against this backdrop, we manage the business for the long term, with a very clear strategy of alignment to the needs of our global customer base. We have a strong portfolio of global aviation services, which provides us with exposure to various sectors and geographies, and our portfolio approach, without any single product or market dominance, often enables us to limit the impact of such volatility.”

New auditors

Air Partner said, “On completion of the audit by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, our newly appointed auditors, we look forward to announcing our results for the year ended 31 January 2019 on Thursday 9 May 2019.  A detailed update on the business performance will be provided with the full year results.”

Briffa added, “Our shareholders would expect me to be no more than quietly confident at the start of a new year, and this year is no different.  Aviation can be both challenging and exciting, but we have never been more aligned to our customers in our nearly 60-year history than today, and our clear long-term strategy is delivering results and opportunities.  We have withstood an unwelcome and costly event, but have now started the new financial year with an exciting strategic outlook and growth plans to take the Group forward.”

Jet Card prices

Air Partner offers fixed-rate, guaranteed availability jet cards starting at 10 hours and allowing for funds to be used for on-demand charter. Lead price is $4,700 per hour including Federal Excise Tax for a light jet. It joins Air Charter Service, NetJets, Sentient Jet, and VistaJet as having primary service areas covering both North America and Europe. Additionally, it offers fixed rates for large aircraft in the Middle East.

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