Air Partner forecasts surge in corporate jet use after atrocity

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The Independent Online

Air Partner, the world's largest corporate jet broker, yesterday forecast a surge in bookings in the wake of the suicide plane attacks on New York and Washington.

Tony Mack, the company's chairman, said the events of 11 September had damaged the perception of how safe scheduled air travel was and had made company executives much keener to use private jets.

"The only way you can really be sure of who you are sitting next to is to charter your own plane and pilots," said Mr Mack. Advance bookings are up by 15 per cent, he added, and current trading was strong. The bullish comments helped lift Air Partner shares 21 per cent to 236.5p.

Mr Mack, a pilot himself, said the US attacks had resulted in a few cancelled bookings from worried passengers but a lot more business repatriating customers. But he said it was still too early to give a full picture of how the business would be affected in the longer term.

Pre-tax profits for the year to 31 July fell by 19 per cent to £2.2m despite a 21 per cent increase in sales to £89m.

This was because Air Partner had expanded the size of the business following a 42 per cent increase in sales in the first half, only to see growth collapse to just 3 per cent in the second six months as the world aviation industry went into a downturn.