Founded to promote self-regulation among air charter brokers, Acana (Air Charter Association of North America) has become the brokers’ alphabet group, taking the lead on issues affecting the charter brokerage business. These issues–most prominently impending broker regulations from the Department of Transportation (DOT) and illegal charter activity–will be the focus of the panel discussion at Acana’s forum at the NBAA convention today in Room N117 from 1 p.m. to 2:45 p.m.
The DOT released an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) for charter broker regulations in 2007, and after multiple delays says it will release the NPRM before the end of this year. The regulation’s primary goal is “ensuring that consumers who use the services of air charter brokers are adequately protected against unfair and deceptive practices,” according to the agency.
“We welcome regulations, as long as they are fair and allow brokers to do their work and apply to all who engage in charter brokerage, including limos and hotels that offer to arrange charters as part of their services,” said David McCown, Air Partner vice president and Acana chairman. Acana met with DOT officials earlier this year to provide input on the proposed rules, and McCown will brief forum attendees on their discussion.
The problem of illegal and corner-cutting brokers–perceived to be growing–that sparked the DOT action has numerous legitimate brokers supporting the concept of government regulation.
“Ignorant, uneducated so-called brokers are coming out of nowhere,” said Wayne J. Rizzi, president and CEO of charter broker Air Royale International (ARI), who supports DOT regulation. (ARI is an Acana member company.) “They’re dangerous for consumers and they’re giving transparent, ethical and professional brokers a bad reputation.”
Possible consequences of engaging in illegal charter were dramatized in September when federal prison terms of 30 and 18 months were handed down to the founder and co-founder, respectively, of Platinum Jet Management for charges arising from the 2005 crash of an illegally chartered Challenger 600 in Teterboro, N.J. The jet overran the departure end of the runway during takeoff, crossed a highway and demolished a building, one of the high-profile illegal charter accidents that spurred Acana’s formation.
Additional topics on the forum agenda include due diligence responsibilities and liability as an air charter broker, intent disclosure and transparency in charter agreements and relationships between charter brokers and charter operators. Scheduled panelists are aviation attorney and author Kent Jackson; Joel Thomas, president and CEO of Stratos Jet Charters and Acana president; Brent Moldowan, managing director of Wyvern Consulting and Acana vice president; Michael Hackert, vice president sales and marketing of Miami Air; Steve Lister, vice president of Jet Select; Tracey Deakin, COO of Le Bas International; and McCown and Rizzi.
Acana, which promotes best practices that all affiliated charter providers pledge to observe, has 21 members, and is co-exhibiting in the Avidnode booth (No. C7818).
“The broker industry is a very important growth engine for the business aviation market,” McCown said. “Some of the biggest innovations in private aviation in the last 15 years, like jet cards, have come from brokers. Acana was formed because we’re proud of what we do, and we want to help those [brokers that are] not as professional and informed do it properly, and [let them] know that there’s an organization that can help them.”