EBACE Convention News

Isle of Man registry a ‘M-ONEY’ shelter

 - May 11, 2007, 11:43 AM

A new European aircraft registry designed specifically for corporate jets–which promises a high level of service and competitive rates–has a range of M-prefixed registration options to offer as well.

Its availability opens up a whole range of naming options. M-YJET and M-ONEY are among at least 18 already spoken for, but M-YBBJ (for the discerning Boeing Business Jet owner) may still be up for grabs, along with more than 45,000 other combinations.

The registry is based on the Isle of Man, previously known mainly for a breed of tailless cat and the annual Touring Trophy series of white-knuckle motorcycle road races. But the island–located in the Irish Sea halfway between the UK mainland and Ireland–boasts a 1,000-year-old parliament, and, as a self-governing dependency of the British Crown, enjoys a large measure of domestic legislative autonomy.

Brian Johnson, the island’s first director of civil aviation, told EBACE Convention News the idea behind the registry was to complement an existing range of financial and corporate services (based on its offshore tax status). “The island already does large amounts of aircraft finance, insurance and leasing. Hopefully the ability to register aircraft as well will attract business for the corporate service providers on the island; that’s the driving force,” he said.

The Isle of Man has an established shipping register, and a super-yacht register started three years ago has been extremely successful, with 48 craft registered already. “That’s what we hope to replicate with the aircraft register,” Johnson said.
“A high-quality supportive service, which you don’t always get from regulators,” is what aircraft owners can expect, according to Johnson. “It doesn’t mean there’s going to be any reduction in standards, just that we will be more focused commercially on looking after clients. If you have an aircraft that needs to be surveyed urgently, for example, we’ll bend over backward to make sure you get what you want.”

Tax Incentives

There could be financial advantages, too. Aircraft weighing more than eight metric tons are zero-rated for value-added tax in the UK, and the island levies no corporate or capital gains tax. So having an Isle of Man-registered aircraft operated by a local company, as owners of the super-yachts registered there typically do, could save the owner money as well as meeting the register’s goal of attracting business to the island.

The registry’s own charges have been kept low, Johnson explained. “We want to be competitive with the Caribbean registers and, obviously, the UK register. And, because we are a small unit with low overhead, we didn’t have high costs to cover. So I’ve made the charges as competitive as possible.” There is a fixed rate for registering a mortgage on the Isle of Man, for example. By contrast, other registers increase the mortgage registration fee in line with the value of the aircraft.

As for the prefixes, Johnson had not been aware that M aircraft registration prefixes, awarded to the UK in the 1930s and unused since, might be available. Until
a UK government official offered it out of the blue at a meeting in London, he had expected to use something along the lines of the VP-B and VP-C prefixes used by the Bermuda and Cayman Islands registries.

Before taking his present job, Johnson was head of flight operations for the UK Civil Aviation Authority, “responsible for everything from British Airways down.” Earlier in his career he was a corporate pilot flying Cessna Citations, British Aerospace Hawker 125s and Beech King Airs. “This is a world I know very well from a pilot’s point of view,” he commented.

Even so, he has been surprised by the enthusiastic reaction to the new register. “The interest in the register is well ahead of our internal procedures, so whenever someone requests a registration, I make a note so they will be able to apply formally when the paperwork is released. The high interest clearly proves there was a need for an efficient, supportive register to meet the needs of business jet owners in Europe,” he concluded.