Ad-hoc charter - establishing best practice
Lobbying for change
Following the hurricane in Florida in November a US private jet customer wrote about her experience of business aviation involvement in the rescues:
“Ultimate Jet Charters and Stratos Jet companies did an excellent job helping people depart from Florida quickly and safely during hurricane Irma. However, I had a very unfortunate experience trying to leave from Orlando Executive airport during this evacuation. A charter with a different company left my family and I in a very perilous situation when the aircraft didn’t meet us at the airport. This company then moved back our departure time, but treated later bookings with a higher priority than ours. It did not follow through on its commitment to us.”
Eventually she secured another aircraft from Elite Air, but it was tremendously stressful for her entire family.
In the aftermath the customer was clearly keen to avoid future similar challenges and asked whether there are organizations that accept feedback or provide recommendations on air charter companies, to serve both as a warning to other clients as well as provide intelligence on more professional companies such as Elite Air, Ultimate Jet Charters and Stratos Jet?
ACANA agrees whole-heartedly with these sentiments and recognizes that it is imperative to educate users of business aviation about standards of professionalism within the broker industry in particular, and the air charter industry in general.
On being told that brokers of ad hoc air charter are unregulated by government she went on to say, “I wish I had been more informed and welcome the opportunity to help prevent such issues for others. Greater adoption of these independent standards is of benefit to the industry.”
Interestingly, Stratos Jets is an ACANA member broker and Ultimate Jet Charters are one of the longest standing ACANA member operators. The ACANA logo appears on company websites and it is an association objective to market the best practice standards ACANA members commit to more widely among customers.
On another note, ACANA Chairman Paul McCluskey noted that the operator which failed the customer on this specific trip recently ceased operations following Chapter 7 liquidation proceedings in the US court. The association has been watching this situation unfold and the unanimous feeling among the membership is that it is not the sort of operation an ACANA member would want to be associated with as any such relationship would be the opposite of the best practices and fiscal responsibility our members are committed to and demonstrate on a daily basis. Indeed, one of the inviolable requirements to be accepted into the ACANA membership fold is the demonstration of financial responsibility and fitness. McCluskey said, “We discussed this and the unanimous feeling amongst the membership is that it appears to be a sure indicator of poor management to drive a corporate jet operator in to such dire straits, filing first for Chapter 11 followed quickly by closure under Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Our members clearly understand that, if this is what is happening publicly at the company, then there is a strong possibility of worse turmoil behind the scenes.”
Expanding on ACANA’s commitment to establishing, quantifying and maintaining best practices, high ethical standards and fiscal responsibility amongst the membership, McCluskey told Charter Broker “We were recently fortunate enough to have 10 very senior individuals who have been and continue to be instrumental in driving ACANA’s positive agenda all together in the same city at once.” referring to the NBAA-BACE and IMEX trade shows which coincided in Las Vegas in October. “We were able to take a few hours to discuss the state of the industry and examine the situation regarding government efforts to establish baseline regulation for the brokering of aircraft charter in the US. Frankly, we feel that well intentioned government efforts have stalled and that, while there may still be some will to move forward, there is little urgency and even fewer available resources. ACANA represents a wealth of exemplary industry knowledge and expertise. We feel it is not only viable but morally compelling to make these resources available to the industry and the travelling public and that there also exist very real opportunities to establish ACANA certification, education and training programs for member companies and their staffs respectively. Over the coming months we will be looking to kick-start these initiatives and explore how we can integrate with fellow industry organizations to strengthen these efforts.”