Aviation entrepreneur targets the high flyers

The £47.4m-turnover company’s CEO, Kurosh Tehranchian, says Ocean Sky is also protected from the credit crunch: “Heavy jets – the type you take for trans-Atlantic flights – tend to be more resilient to economic conditions. The type of client who charters a heavy jet is someone who is very wealthy in terms of their high-net worth.

“The difference between this guy and the guy who charters the lighter jet is that he’s not reliant on his income. Someone who is earning a huge amount of money as, say, a hedge fund manager or city broker is a lot more prone to these ill winds. As soon as the credit crunch comes along, they swap back to flying first class or business class. For the other type of person, it’s become a lifestyle.”

Tehranchian runs Ocean Sky with his wife, Niki Rokni, who has been in the aviation business for years. Together they’ve seen a shift in the private jet game when it comes to clientele and the aircraft. “The aircraft we have has the type of technology that people expect in jumbos and military planes. In terms of clients, it’s changed over the past three or four years. The awareness has increased dramatically. Before, a lot of people didn’t even know there was an alterative to sitting in the front cabin of BA,” he says.

“Also, the strength of the economy in Europe in general has had a tremendous effect. And the price of oil has helped Middle East and Russian customers become a lot more active, let’s say, in this market.”

Like many other operators, Ocean Sky is ordering more jets to keep up with the demand although jumping the waiting list for aircraft comes at a premium. “We’ve had to pay in the region of £5m above the asking price to get a plane early,” he says.

Tehranchian says to succeed in the business, you have to have a passion for planes. “It’s a fantastic industry because you’re dealing with very sexy products,” he says.

“You don’t have to be famous to fly with us, but you do need to be rich.”

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