Royal Jet, a private jet operator based in Abu Dhabi, revealed yesterday that last year was its most successful yet, despite the European debt crisis and the Arab Spring.
Net profits soared by 226 per cent out of total revenues that were up 31.2 per cent on 2010's performance, the company said, although it declined to reveal the specific cash figures involved for competition reasons.
What is more, the company, jointly owned by Abu Dhabi's Presidential Flight and Abu Dhabi Aviation, took the World's Leading Private Jet Charter award for an unprecedented fifth year in a row at the prestigious World Travel Awards in January.
"This is the best-ever result in our eight-year history, and is the sixth consecutive year of profitability," said Shane O'Hare, the president and chief executive of Royal Jet.
Royal Jet's other business units: brokerage; medical evacuation (medevac); aircraft management; and fixed-base operations (FBO), also recorded significant improvements. The brokerage team recorded an increase in gross revenue of 53 per cent and the medevac team delivered a 65 per cent increase in revenue from 192 missions involving 309 patients.
Its FBO handled a total of 1,200 visiting aircraft, and its core business clocked up 10,692 "blocked hours" - or total time from "chocks away" to engine shutdown - an increase of 29 per cent. Its aircraft flew 3,135 flights to 370 cities.
Mr O'Hare said the record performance was the result of a re-organisation at the company. "We examined every aspect of our operations and made changes where we felt improvement was possible," he said. "We were able to align more closely our commercial, operational and corporate activities to become more agile in line with market needs. We implemented an aggressive and well-segmented sales plan featuring a new and sophisticated yield management programme to provide our highest ever return on revenue block hours.
"That plan, allied to the operational streamlining process, led to a significant gain in productivity and a reduction in costs. Simultaneously, we were able to focus on delivering better VIP customer service, and the result is I am delighted to report that 2011 was the most successful year ever for Royal Jet and by a considerable margin, both operationally and financially."
The euro-zone debt crisis and other financial shocks last year resulted in corporate business travel falling by 50 per cent in the US and 20 per cent in both Europe and the Middle East, Mr O'Hare said.
However, the Arab Spring had been positive for Royal Jet, with the number of its medevac flights increasing. "Some of our customers travelled more," he said. "We did a significant increase in the number of government missions, flying government leaders, diplomats, teams of officials. Also there were an increase in the number of summits. That pushed traffic up too."
He said the number of flights into Iraq also increased as more companies were seeking to do business there in places not yet served by commercial airlines.
"The year 2011 brought an enormous number of challenges on a global scale, so achieving simple year-on-year growth would count as a creditable performance for many businesses," Mr O'Hare said. "So delivering a record year is an outstanding result.
"While the outlook for 2012 remains uncertain, we have a number of new initiatives planned for the year," he said.
"We see a potential increase in the Middle East private jet market overall of between 6 and 7 per cent. But we are confident we will be out-performing that market."