Air Partner outlook improves

Private jet company Air Partner, charter broker of planes to world governments and the extremely wealthy, intends on cutting costs as it seeks to return to growth amid signs of an upturn in the market.

The company saw a 10.3 per cent slide in its shares yesterday after having reported a 76 per cent fall in first half pre-tax profits from continued operations. Continuing sales fell seven per cent to £95m, but the firm also said it had seen “tentative signs” of improvement. In results for the six months ended 31 January, the company announced the closure of its private jet operation at Biggin Hill. The unit suffered a loss of £1.2m and has been placed with administrators. The closure of the operation will remove a profit drag and allows the new chief executive, Mark Briffa, to focus on the core, market leading broking business.

“We want to protect the core business and have no impact on the private sector,” Briffa said. “This action is to position the group for future growth. Our objective is to provide exceptional client service.”

Despite the downturn, the Private Jet Broking division, as well as JetCard, its private service in which owners of pre- paid JetCards can call for private jets at their disposal, are performing well.

In another effort to save on costs as the company attempts to return to profit, Air Partner suspended its interim dividend.

● Floated on the LSE in 1989, the group has hiked its dividend by at least 10 per cent a year for the past 12 years.
● It has 22 offices in 15 countries spanning North America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia.