Terrorism boost for corporate jet broker

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The Independent Online

A surge in the number of multi-national companies wanting to safeguard their key employees in the wake of 11 September has produced a turnaround in the fortunes of Air Partner, the world's largest corporate jet broker.

Reporting a sharp rise in first-half profits and forward bookings, the company's chairman Tony Mack yesterday declared: "The worst is over. It is onwards and upwards. We always said this business was resilient and all the indications are that we are now back on track."

Since the terrorist attacks, Air Partner has signed up 10 new clients for its London-based emergency planning division, which specialises in evacuating staff from troublespots. They include BAE Systems, and a number of big investment banks, drinks companies and oil producers.

Mr Mack also said Air Partner had picked up a lot of new business from companies that had decided it was safer for their executives to fly by private jet rather than on scheduled commercial services.

"They take the view that the only way you can be sure who is flying you and who is sitting next to you is to charter your own jet," he said.

Among the orders Air Partner has won since 11 September was a contract to fly a 70-strong American orchestra around Europe in a chartered Boeing 737.

Profits for the six months to 31 January were up by 28 per cent to £1.6m while forward bookings are ahead by 27 per cent on the same period last year. In the first four weeks of the second half, sales surged and are now showing a 9 per cent increase for the seven month period from 31 July to 28 February compared with a 2 per cent drop to £45m for the six months.

Shares in the company rose 9 per cent to 330p, bolstered by a buy note from the house broker Beeson Gregory, which is now forecasting profits of £3.2m for the full year and £4m for next year.