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LEA Expands Charter Fleet With Property Mogul’s Challenger 300

Aviation - 27th March 2012

London, England, March 27, 2012London Executive Aviation (LEA), one of Europe’s largest business jet charter operators, is expanding its fleet with the addition of a Bombardier Challenger 300, which the company has sourced and is managing for one of the UK’s foremost property investors, Andreas Panayiotou.

Panayiotou, chairman of The Ability Group, has built a diverse portfolio of luxury hotel, commercial and high-end residential properties. He will use his aircraft to visit his investments across Europe, which include multiple Hilton Hotels in the United Kingdom, the Club Med Kamarina resort in Sicily and retail properties in Germany. However, other than occasional owner use, the Challenger 300 will be extensively available for charter from its base at London Luton Airport.

George Galanopoulos, managing director of LEA, says: “We have an established relationship with Andreas, for whom we have previously managed aircraft. When he decided to buy another business jet, we were very pleased to advise him on his choice. We identified the Challenger 300 as ideally suited to his needs and, as the only UK charter operator with extensive experience of operating this type, were well placed to source the perfect aircraft. We dealt with all the importation and registration matters and have had the Challenger refurbished to Andreas’s exacting standards. It really is a beautiful aircraft and will be a hit with charter customers.”

The Challenger 300, tail number G-MRAP, can seat up to eight passengers, in two ‘club four’ configurations, two flight crew members and a stewardess. With a 3,600-mile range and the ability to operate from runways as short as 1,300m, the Challenger 300 can serve destinations as far from London as Dubai and Moscow.

“The Challenger 300 is an immensely accomplished super mid-size jet,” says Galanopoulos, “offering passengers a light and roomy environment with the latest in-cabin management systems. From the operator’s standpoint, we have been very impressed with the aircraft’s quality and dispatch reliability and with Bombardier’s field support.”

Confirming his reputation as a shrewd buyer of assets, Panayiotou took advantage of the depressed used aircraft market to secure his Challenger 300 at a deep discount to current list prices. Galanopoulos comments: “Now is a great time to buy a used private aircraft, as prices remain low in the prevailing economic climate. However, the ‘smart money’ is beginning to act on this opportunity, leading to increased activity in the used market. It won’t be long before used aircraft values rise again, so potential buyers would do well to make their acquisitions soon.”

“However, as with anything, it is important to buy wisely,” he continues. “The aircraft manager has a crucial role to play in this regard, particularly when advising a new aircraft owner. By selecting the right aircraft type for the owner’s needs, and locating the best example available, we can ensure the aircraft performs well, both for the owner’s personal use and in the charter market.”

According to Galanopoulos, conditions in the charter market have recently become more favourable for aircraft owners: “The charter market is definitely beginning to strengthen again, although demand will remain uneven for a while yet. For buyers of aircraft, this recovery means there is a much better opportunity to earn charter income, which helps offset the cost of aircraft ownership.”

Concerning the Challenger 300, Galanopoulos says: “We are delighted that another owner has entrusted LEA with the management of his aircraft. Our reputation in this area has been hard won: it is one thing to compete in a sprint but aircraft management is a marathon that demands excellent customer service over the long term. With our large team of trained staff and 24/7 operations centre, we have made the investments necessary for success.”

Panayiotou says: “In business, I have come to value personal integrity above everything else. London Executive Aviation has consistently proved straightforward, dependable and professional in our dealings. The company really understands customer service and makes the ownership experience painless. Importantly, LEA has always delivered on its promise of ensuring a large volume of charter demand, which significantly impacts the costs of aircraft ownership. The company is exemplary in how it manages aircraft and I am very happy to entrust LEA with this important asset.”

Photographs to accompany this story can be found here.