The founder and president of California-based aircraft and FBO operator Advanced Air
discusses dealing with Covid-19.
Why did you launch Advanced Air?
Growing up with my mother across the water from Seattle, I would regularly travel between there and Fairbanks, Alaska, to visit my father. I became quite familiar with flying as an unaccompanied minor with airlines. For me, the best part of this was the boarding process. At a very young age, I knew I wanted to be a pilot and make sure these experiences never ended.
My career path started with learning how to fly, then becoming a professional pilot, and then ultimately turning my passion into a business. After a short one-year stint as a pilot with a regional airline I took a professional risk by moving to Southern California to accept a King Air 350 Captain position. The owners wanted me to fly the aircraft, manage the day-to-day operations and liaise with their management company on their behalf. Not long after settling into this opportunity it became clear to me that I wanted to own and operate my own charter company and Advanced Air was born.
How have you been dealing with Covid-19?
The first priority was to protect both our employees and our customers. We provided the tools for our employees to manage their jobs remotely. Plans to protect both customers and essential on-site employees were launched. All of these measures were validated by our NATA Safety 1st Clean Certification. We established a relationship with a local testing site to enable a quick response for anyone experiencing symptoms. To date we’ve had zero exposures in the workplace.
Equally as important was financial stability. While keeping in mind that the primary goal was to protect the viability of the company for the long run, we had to make difficult decisions to safeguard the company. We wanted to minimize the number of individuals impacted while maximizing the resulting benefit. Thankfully, we have since been able to bring back all who wanted to return and have added even more jobs and are expecting continued staffing increases during this year.
Which part of your job do you enjoy the most?
Having the opportunity to fly an airplane instead of sitting behind a desk is definitely one of my greatest pleasures. But the ultimate fulfilment stems from witnessing members of my team grow. The satisfaction of building a company that provides opportunities is immeasurable.
What advice would you give on how to set up an aviation company post-Covid?
Consider your priorities – safety, profitability, customer service, growth, long-term sustainability. For all of these, a finger on the pulse of the constant evolution of the industry is critical. Having the aptitude to move in different directions and adapt to change is crucial.
Most importantly, you have to understand what is important to your customer and provide that and more – with the understanding that it will change.
What does the future hold for Advanced Air?
The future of Advanced Air has no boundaries as we continue to deliver a quality product supported by people and technology with integrity and transparency. Maintaining our foundation and staying true to our core values will allow us to leverage our strengths to continually search out and capitalize on opportunities.
Our key areas of focus will be growth of an FBO network with the flagship Jet Center Los Angeles leading the way. Additionally, we are actively expanding our on-demand charter fleet and operations to include authorizations, aircraft, and infrastructure for worldwide operations.