AeroVanti Club appoints Scott Hopes as CEO

Private jet and yacht club AeroVanti has named Scott Hopes as CEO while Patrick Britton-Harr stays as Founder and Chairman.

By Doug Gollan, June 23, 2023

Facing twin lawsuits from disgruntled members, AeroVanti Club has named Dr. Scott Hopes as its new Chief Executive Officer.

According to a press release, “As CEO, Hopes will use his senior leadership experience to drive the direction of the company, focusing on sustainable membership growth, fleet expansion, and delivering an exceptional member experience.”

AeroVanti’s new CEO

He most recently served as County Administrator at Manatee County, Florida.

However, he resigned from that post in February after previous allegations he had “mismanaged staff and abused his office,” although he was given an extension.

During his tenure, Hopes appointed Courtney De Pol as Deputy County Administrator.

She is the wife of Robert De Pol, who served as COO of AeroVanti from October 2021 until February 2023, when he resigned.

Robert De Pol is named in the lawsuits.

According to the announcement of his appointment as CEO, Hopes “has extensive executive leadership in the aviation, aerospace, healthcare, IT, education, and government sectors.”

The release says Hopes “founded HMD Airways, based in Miami, Florida, in 2010, which he successfully ran and sold to International Flight Services in 2013.”

However, a check of his LinkedIn profile does not include a reference to HMD Airways.

It does show Hopes as Chairman and CEO of Healthcare Management Decisions, Inc. since 1989, which its LinkedIn profile describes as having between two and 10 employees.

During that period, it shows he held positions as a senior executive consultant to Consulate Heath Care (from August 2009 to July 2019) and as Chairman and CEO of CliniLinc, Inc. from June 2010 to December 2017.

The announcement says Hopes has been a pilot “since 1989 with more than 3,500 hours as a pilot in command, Hopes holds an FAA Airline Transport Pilot certificate with Citation and Hawker jet type ratings.”

“I’m honored to take over as CEO of this innovative organization,” said Hopes.

He added, “AeroVanti was founded on the idea that a remarkable private aviation experience should be accessible and approachable. I look forward to continuing Patrick’s vision of marrying luxury, convenience, and value in private aviation while upgrading the member experience and continuing the incredible growth it has already experienced.”

Britton-Harr will continue as founder and chairman, overseeing business development and strategic partnerships.

“Dr. Hopes’ experience, strategic direction, and steady leadership have been valued assets at every organization with which he’s been associated, including as a healthcare executive, a county administrator overseeing a multi-billion-dollar budget, and even as a private airline founder who scaled and sold a successful private airline,” Britton-Harr said.

AeroVanti’s challenges

Since its July 2021 launch, AeroVanti has claimed 400% growth, including raising $100 million.

It has signed private aviation partnerships with the University of Maryland, University of Central Florida, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Chicago Cubs, Spire Motorsports, and US Sailing.

However, AeroVanti has been plagued by complaints about cancelations and poor service.

The company offers flights for under $2,000 per hour and has been operating under Part 91F instead of the typical Part 135 rules for charter and jet cards.

Earlier this year, the FAA sent letters asking AeroVanti members for details about their flights as part of a possible investigation into operating illegal charters.

Britton-Harr has responded to previous complaints by saying that the provider does not guarantee availability.

Members of AeroVanti who have spoken to Private Jet Card Comparisons give it decidedly mixed reviews with cancelations and delays as well as flights that operated.

Two lawsuits

It is currently facing two lawsuits alleging it took money from customers that were to be used to acquire and refurbish a pair of Piaggio turboprops.

However, it is alleged the airplanes were repossessed, and the funds were used for other purposes.

According to an email sent to members announcing Hopes as CEO, AeroVanti has flown more than 1,200 flights, 3,000 hours, and 2,200 passengers in 2023.

Neither Hopes nor Britton-Harr responded to a request about Hopes’ background.

In March AeroVanti named former Piaggio executive Paolo Ferreri as Interim COO.

It’s unclear if he is still in that role.

Not for everyone

Britton-Harr responded to the lawsuit by telling Private Jet Card Comparisons, “Since the launch of our program and platform, we understand that our membership is not set up for everyone. We are not an on-demand charter. We are a private membership club. All of our members utilize our aircraft interchangeably.”

He added, “Since our launch, the safety of our members and our crew has always been our top priority, and that will never change. Flight cancelations due to weather, maintenance, availability, or any other scenarios are part of the aviation industry. Unfortunately, there are people who put convenience and personal priorities ahead of safety. That’s something we will never budge on.”

He claimed, “The collective group led by Mr. Gratziani has been offered to have their memberships bought back. They are very opportunistic. They believe in cancel culture. We just brought on 18 new aircraft. Some people think pressuring employees and threatening employees is the best way for them to get a flight. We are not going to succumb to threats by members. We have a tremendous amount of support. We are continuing to move forward and will not be blindsided by a few toxic individuals.”

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