Fast 5: Air Charter Association CEO On Demand, Illegal Charters, More

Credit: The Air Charter Association

Glenn Hogben joined The Air Charter Association in 2008 and was elected to the board of directors in 2017. He was elected deputy chair in 2020 before assuming his current position as CEO in 2021.  The ACA has nearly 320 members, comprised 70% by charter brokers and charter operators and 30% by support organizations such as airports, manufacturers and others.

Charter operators experienced unprecedented demand during the first six months of 2022. Business aviation flights have risen in 2022. What has that meant for providers?

The demand has outstripped supply at certain times, which is a poison chalice, I suppose. It’s great for businesses to be oversubscribed, but actually from a customer service level . . . the expectation is that things will be perfect, and people aim to provide that super level of experience and customer service. Now when the demand outstrips supply, that’s the wrong way around for that sort of equation to work. People have been working really, really hard to try to maintain those levels of service while trying to find capacity has been so difficult.

What have operators done to try to handle all the demand?

Charter operators have been taking on aircraft as quickly as they can and as soon as they can find any used aircraft on the market. Manufacturers are under the same pressure as the rest of the industry. Their delivery times are pushing out nearly two years on some of their models. So, the ability to get more aircraft into fleets has been incredibly difficult. The second-hand aircraft market is at one of its lowest availability levels. But operators have done everything they can to bring more aircraft onto their fleet, where possible.

How is demand today?

There are a lot of tired people out there in our industry at the moment who have been working around the clock to try to make things happen. The good news for those people, or possibly bad news for the business owners and such, is that things are starting to calm down a little bit. I think we are still above historic levels, but they are much more returning to some sort of normality. Certainly, demand over the last month or so has started to reduce. That’s what I’ve been hearing from quite a few different areas around the industry. And in many ways, that is sort of coming as a bit of relief and respite for the industry that has been almost at breaking point since earlier in the year..

The Air Charter Association has an initiative to help stop the practice of illegal charter flights and raise awareness. How is that going and how do consumers make sure they're not booking an illegal charter? 

We’ve been campaigning against illegal charters for many years. It’s really important because of the safety issues that relate to it. There have, unfortunately, been several examples where aircraft have had accidents and sadly, people have lost their lives due to the fact that the flights they’re on are not legally operated. They shouldn’t have ever been in those situations. [Customers should] check that the aircraft is on an air operator’s certificate, and that a commercial licensed operator is operating it. If you’re using a broker, use a broker who is listed on our membership from around the world. They are all committed to doing due diligence on the client’s behalf. The broker carries out those checks to make sure the operator is bona fide, fully registered, up to date on all the licenses and insurance, and the documents all check. Equally, there are operators listed on our membership list. And they are all pre-approved and pre-checked.

What is the biggest challenge for the charter industry today?

I think it would be a close tie between sustainability and the next generation. I think I’d probably tip toward the next generation. . . . The attraction of talent back to aviation is probably the biggest challenge that’s currently facing the industry—and growing awareness. There are many industry associations working on this on behalf of their members. But it’s a big job.

Molly McMillin

Molly McMillin, a 25-year aviation journalist, is managing editor of business aviation for the Aviation Week Network and editor-in-chief of The Weekly of Business Aviation, an Aviation Week market intelligence report.