New carrier touts low-cost model
The bailout and subsequent acquisition by Sky One France co-founders Mirchandani and Lebigot purportedly cost the two new shareholders about US$5.2 million. But it means that Aerospace One has a readymade line maintenance base in the heart of Europe.
But Bennett discloses that the airline has yet to confirm if Châteauroux will also serve as the carrier’s European operation hub.
“At the moment, Châteauroux is one option under consideration, but it is among a number of locations we could use within Western Europe,” he says.
It is not clear yet how Aerospace One will prosper under its proclaimed L3C business model. But perhaps some clue can be gained from another of Mirchandani’s enterprises, Veteran Avia, an Armenian-registered cargo carrier based in Sharjah, which operates a fleet of 747-200s and Il-76s.
Primarily another ACMI operation, Veteran Avia has two B747-200Fs flying on behalf of Saudia Cargo. Little surprise that Veteran is also represented in the UK by chartersphere.
“Veteran has a long track record of operating B747Fs, and we will naturally draw on their experience and will also have access to their crews and aircraft,” Bennett says.
But Bennett appears confident of success for the fledgling new European carrier now under his wing.
“This will be a niche operator, entering a niche market,” he says. “We have the back-up and the aircraft to make a success of this exclusive affiliation.”
Mirchandani may have an extensive portfolio of aviation businesses, but it is his previous aviation endeavors that arouse interest.
Back in 2002, Mirchandani, as then owner of a Sam Avia, was indicted by an Indian court of operating a series of illegal flights between Delhi and Dubai. In connivance with Kazakhistan airline GST Aero, it was claimed that at least six illegal flights were operated using AN-12 freighters.
What intrigued the Indian authorities was the lengths to which the conspirators had gone to facilitate the flights. This included producing a forged letter on the letterhead of the Kazakhistan embassy, which was submitted to two Indian ministries in order to gain the necessary flight clearances.
Two years earlier, Sam Avia was investigated by India’s Directorate of Revenue Intelligence. The company was accused of allegedly being involved in a fraud whereby goods were flown out of India by Sam Avia, ostensibly to Russia, but in fact the flights only reached Dubai where the goods were offloaded and sold at a higher price.