SaxonAir has ushered in 2022 welcoming four light business jets – two new on the UK G-register and a permanent London Biggin Hill Airport base, supported by Sovereign Business Jets, complementing offices at London Stansted. In December it ordered a new Leonardo AW109SP Grand New helicopter, via UK distributor Sloane Helicopters, complementing three new AW119s, the first of its type to be registered in the UK when it joined SaxonAir’s rotary fleet last April.
“We are very pleased with these achievements,” reflects Alex Durand, CEO, who 12 months ago questioned whether independent, smaller UK charter companies would be negatively impacted as they grappled with restrictions and burdensome administration thanks to Brexit. “A year on we have got through it and emerged with renewed vigour,” he said.
By way of celebration the company brought its latest charter fleet – including a Learjet 45 (G-OSRL), Learjet 75 (G-USHA) and Cessna Citation CJ1 (G-COBN), plus one of two Embraer Phenom 300s (G-KRBN) to Biggin Hill Airport on 1stFebruary to showcase to charter brokers and industry guests. The event concluded with a sustainable aviation fuelling (SAF) of the Phenom 300 which flew off to Germany.
“Brexit may have been challenging, but the pandemic also saw business aviation emerge as hero – getting people home when the airlines stopped, enabling commerce to continue. We can confidently write our own narrative now,” Alex added.
The resilience of the sector was especially evident in the light jet sector, where SaxonAir is active. This category has seen the biggest growth in charter, up 30% from the pre-pandemic winter period and bolstered by newcomers to business aviation.
These past 12 months SaxonAir has explored ways to reduce its carbon footprint, with the environment front and centre on everyone’s agenda. “It makes me proud, as deputy chair ofthe British Business General Aviation Association, that GA is leading the way in the electrification of aircraft,” Alex added.
In 2021 SaxonAir embarked on a rigorous programme to upgrade (and make greener) its Klyne Business Aviation Centre HQ at Norwich Airport, including introducing electric car charging points and a lift-sharing scheme for its 50-plus employees. It teamed with emissions partner Gone West to plant trees in the UK for every business jet and helicopter flight operated.
This initiative helped at-risk youths engaged to work as tree planters through Gone West’s Acorns to Oaks programme, in partnership with The Prince’s Trust. “With the help of Gone West we know how many trees to need to plan to offset our carbon emissions,” said Alex.
SaxonAir also endorses NEBO Air. Based in Beccles, Suffolk, it has ambitions to be the world’s first sustainable, cost-effective micro ‘airline’ with zero CO2 emissions using the newly UK certificated all- electric Pipistrel Velis aircraft. Sergei Gratchev, NEBO Air’s Founder highlights that airfields across the UK and Europe are “sending letters of intent wishing to join the project and enhance our network.” This builds momentum to create a web of electric aircraft charging facilities throughout the UK and beyond.
Improving security through AvioNexus
SaxonAir has also focused on how advances in digital technology could enhance its business and maximise security. This led to an investment in Make Tech Fly’s signature product AvioNexus (a Software as a Service Saas) web application. Now used regularly by SaxonAir’s flight department – fixed wing and helicopters – AvioNexus enables all parties in the flight management process (working off mobile devices or desktops) to communicate via the platform. SaxonAir benefits from real time updates and data exchange. Employing bank level cybersecurity, it manages every aspect of the trip – including selected catering, the uploading of passenger information and parking requests at FBOs. AvioNexus handles all the security pre FBO visits, including photo ID.
AvioNexus was developed by Managing Director Andrew Douglas, responding to a lack of software with such services. Andrew has worked at the sharp end of business aviation for 15 years with Air Advantage and Pretium Jet Charter. The system focuses on three core values – Security, Simplicity and Visibility. Developed in 2020 by a team of coders and designers in Scotland, subscriptions to the software are offered on a monthly basis for users and/or an annual subscription.