Zenith Aviation offers a bespoke aircraft service including charter flights for business or leisure, the professional maintenance of private jets, an aircraft acquisition and sales service, and tailored management solutions including EASA Part-NCC assistance.
Based at Biggin Hill Airport, Kent, they are within easy reach of London, the rest of the UK and Europe. Zenith Aviation provides support 24 hours a day, seven days a week, servicing the diverse needs of aircraft owners, charter clients and maintenance customers. We caught up with their Managing Director, a former commercial pilot, to find out more.
LM: When was Zenith Aviation established, and what are its USPs?
SM: Zenith Aviation was established in September 2013. Unlike many aircraft management companies, we benefit greatly from significant backing from our parent company, Markerstudy Group, and as a result, we are able to not only manage aircraft on behalf of others, but also acquire our own.
LM: Why did you choose Biggin Hill as a base?
SM: Biggin Hill provides an ideal airfield for which to base our operation. Our first aircraft was a Learjet 45, and I often refer to our hangar as the ‘spiritual home’ of the Learjet in the UK. Most of the UK registered Learjet 45 aircraft have at some stage been operated by companies from our current facility here at Biggin Hill.
LM: What is your professional background, and have you always had an interest in aircraft?
SM: On leaving University, my first job was as a trainee Chartered Accountant with one of the big accountancy practices, but I don’t think that I ever lost my childhood desire to become a pilot. After a few false starts in other jobs, I took the plunge and started training to be a commercial pilot. I was very fortunate to be sponsored by a UK airline to complete my training and flew commercially for over twenty years before deciding to concentrate on the management side of aviation. The accountancy training still comes in handy though!
LM: Who are your main clients, and what countries are they from?
SM: I would say that our charter activity is evenly split between business and leisure, and we often cater for the same customers for both types of journey. We have more business clients than celebrities, although they do of course still pop up from time to time. Our flights are largely into Europe and the Mediterranean region as the aircraft that we operate are particularly suited to shorter routes. As we take on larger aircraft, we are looking to expand our routes. Our area of operation, which is controlled by the UK Civil Aviation Authority, will soon be increased to cover worldwide destinations so we will be able to take customers wherever they want to go!
LM: What were the main driving factors behind adding the Piaggio Avanti EVO to your fleet in January 2016?
SM: The Piaggio represents a great opportunity to spice up the marketplace, and it is a truly remarkable aircraft. It has jet speeds and a class leading luxury cabin, yet benefits from the efficiencies of being a light weight turbo prop. We’re the first ever commercial operator of the Avanti EVO in the UK, which is very exciting as we are introducing something new to the UK market that is truly innovative. It looks absolutely amazing!
LM: Is the private transportation sector becoming more competitive, and what trends are you noticing?
SM: The sector is becoming more competitive. The charter buying public is now focused on not just the provision of an aircraft, but also the associated costs. A large proportion of our business comes through a network of charter brokers who, themselves are facing increasing competition which is driving margins down. Our customers are paying for convenience and attention to detail. It’s vital to provide an impeccable service.
LM: What is next for Zenith Aviation in 2016 after the addition of the new aircraft?
SM: The plan is to continue with our expansion plans, where we are looking at adding new aircraft and increasing our maintenance capability. This, together with growing our worldwide destination capability, will hopefully enable us to manage more aircraft and to grow the business in the future.
LM: What are your personal luxuries in life?
SM: Mostly luxury holidays these days. I think that the desire for the fast cars is behind me.
LM: Which are your favourite luxury travel destinations?
SM: I am a big fan of the Caribbean. I love the sand and the palm trees, but most of all, I love their attitude that the best day to do any job is tomorrow! The Indian Ocean is great too, but the Caribbean atmosphere just tops it for me.
Zenith Aviation – Where and How?
Zenith Aviation is located at Building 529, Churchill Way, Biggin Hill, Westerham, Greater London TN16 3BN.
For more information, visit www.zenithaviation.co.uk, or call 01959 578400.
About Simon Wittenberg