Air London fends off downturn

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The Independent Online
AIR LONDON International, the USM-quoted air charter broker, partly offset the downturn in its UK business by doubling its overseas business.

The company owns no aircraft, but with the aid of a sophisticated computer matches up idle aircraft around the world with clients wishing to hire them.

Pre-tax profits in the year to the end of July fell to pounds 1.09m from pounds 1.2m on turnover 8 per cent lower at pounds 17.8m. Business for overseas clients, mainly Europeans, rose to pounds 5m from pounds 2.5m.

Large aircraft chartering showed little sign of recovering. The main source of business is chartering planes for sales incentives and product launches, an area hit by the downturn in the UK economy.

Executive chartering was stronger and is expected to continue to improve. The client list extends to pop groups, Arab princes and businessmen. Anthony Mack, chairman and managing director, said some companies that had owned executive aircraft had sold them and now hired them for occasional use.

The company is developing two new areas. It is sharing the costs of a sales agent in the Gulf, who is touting for Middle Eastern clients, and it is trying to build up a sales and lease business. Mr Mack acknowledged that now was not a good time to be selling aircraft, but he said it was a natural progression of the business.

The total dividend is raised to 3.5p against 3.2p. The company is in a strong cash position with more than pounds 4m in the bank. Its shares were unchanged at 68p.