ACS reports record sales as cargo charters soar

By Damian Brett

Justin Bowman. Source: Air Charter Service

Air Charter Service (ACS) reported record sales last year as demand soared at the broker’s cargo division as a result of Covid-19.

The company, which has just reported its latest annual financial results, saw sales reach $1.2bn for the financial year ending January 31 with all three division – private jets, group charters and cargo – reporting year-on-year increases. This compares with $610m for the prior 12 month period.

However, the cargo division was the star performer: “With up to 80% of air freight usually travelling in the belly of scheduled passenger aircraft, the cancellation of so many passenger flights meant that cargo charter solutions were needed to compensate, and ACS was in one of the strongest positions to provide them.

“This was particularly a consequence of the company’s decade-old investment in the Chinese market from where a large amount of goods including PPE and test kits and, later on, more general cargo from reopening factories were being exported through often overwhelmed airports.

“ACS’s diverse business also proved invaluable at the peak of the crisis when the demand for shipping goods by air exceeded the capacity of dedicated freighters, as its group charter division stepped in to source passenger aircraft for use in transporting cargo using their holds as well as goods being transported in the cabin.”

The company is not expecting a repeat performance this year as the urgency of the Covid pandemic has abated.

ACS chief executive Justin Bowman said: “Due to our businesses in China, we had been dealing with the Covid-19 outbreak since January 2020. At that stage, we were extremely concerned at what it would mean for the aviation industry and our business.

“However, we are a business that was born out of dealing with crises and our global infrastructure and diversified business model, along with our remarkable team of people, came together to achieve a quite incredible result for any single charter broker. We had to radically change the way we worked, the audiences we were targeting and the aircraft we were chartering last year – and everyone here seems to have taken it in their stride.

“Whilst these results are unlikely to be achieved again this year, they have allowed us to re-invest heavily in the business across a number of exciting strategies which are already generating returns. Some of these are already helping us to beat even our most optimistic forecasts for the current financial year, and we expect others to provide potentially exciting returns in the longer term.”

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