On October 23, Sentient Flight Group purchased Hawker Beechcraft’s charter/management business. The announcement came one day after Sentient said it had agreed to buy TAG Aviation USA’s management business. The deal adds 22 employees, contracts for aircraft and another charter certificate to the Sentient stable. When the TAG Aviation USA deal goes through before year-end, Sentient could add as many as another 79 aircraft.
Techniques d'Avant Garde
AMI Jet Charter’s trouble with the FAA didn’t start on October 12, when the agency revoked AMI’s charter certificate, nor the week before, when it suspended AMI’s certificate, nor in March when the FAA began an investigation of AMI or even in September 2005, when the Department of Transportation fined AMI $250,000 for violation of foreign-ownership regulations.
Sentient Flight Group announced yesterday that it has agreed “in principle” to buy TAG Aviation USA’s aircraft management business from Switzerland-based TAG Aviation Holding. The deal does not seem to include TAG Aviation USA’s charter affiliate, AMI Jet Charter, which recently had its charter certificate revoked. TAG Aviation USA owns 49 percent of AMI; the rest of the company is owned by AMI executives.
AMI Jet Charter had problems with the U.S. Department of Transportation previously and was assessed a $250,000 fine per a consent order issued by the DOT in September 2005 that addressed the issue of influence by foreign owners of the company. DOT regulations require that air carriers be controlled by U.S. citizens, including U.S. citizen corporations. Although 51 percent of AMI is owned by two U.S.
Last night, the FAA revoked the charter certificate of AMI Jet Charter in a letter hand-delivered to AMI president Don Hitch. The letter outlines the FAA’s determination “that an emergency exists related to safety in air commerce and that immediate action to revoke AMI Jet Charter, Inc.’s Air Carrier Certificate is required.” This move follows the FAA’s October 4 suspension of AMI’s charter certificate.
TAG Aviation USA has purchased Signature Flight Support’s charter sales network based at John Wayne Airport in Orange County, Calif., a business unit Signature acquired when it bought the AMR Combs chain in the late 1990s. Inquiries for charters at Signature’s more than 40 locations throughout the U.S. will still be referred to the California location for fulfillment. Under Signature, the flights were booked on a variety of charter providers.
Farnborough Airport officially came under the control of TAG Aviation on February 5, when the Swiss-based group signed a 99-year lease with the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD).
Paradoxically, business aviation will have both a lower and a higher profile at this year’s Farnborough Air Show, to be held July 22 to 28 in the UK. Lower, because several executive aircraft manufacturers have opted to give the event a miss this time around. Higher, because, for the first time ever, the UK airport will not be closed to corporate traffic for the duration of the show.
The FAA suspended AMI Jet Charter’s Part 135 certificate yesterday on an emergency basis, citing many problems with the Burlingame, Calif. charter firm’s operational control of its charter flights. AMI Jet Charter is partially owned by TAG Aviation USA, which brokers charters to AMI Jet Charter and other charter operators on behalf of its management customers.
TAG Aviation will start building an executive terminal at the London-area Farnborough Airport right after this year’s Farnborough International Air Show. The $20 million facility will be the centerpiece of the business aviation center that TAG has developed at the airport, which it operates under a 99-year lease from Britain’s Ministry of Defence (MoD).