Leading aircraft charter company, Air Charter Service, is celebrating 25 years since Chairman Chris Leach and his wife Tina founded the company in the basement of their family home in south west London, UK.
Chris Leach, the son of a pilot and born at Stansted airport, has always had aviation in his blood. Starting as a cargo aircraft loadmaster, he gained experience at Saturn Airways and Transamerica Airlines, as well as working for freight forwarder Savino Del Bene, before seeing an opportunity in the aircraft charter market and forming his own company in 1990.
Chris Leach says: “I actually started the business to pay the mortgage, rather than looking to start a global company. Times were tough at first, so we rented a room in our house to a local student. Coincidentally, he was an aviation enthusiast and spent hours at a time memorising the registration of every aircraft in the world. That student was Justin Bowman, now Group CEO of ACS.
“The current size of our operation is remarkable and something Tina and I are very proud of. Despite our size now, we still strive to retain the family values and personal service on which the business was originally built 25 years ago. Over the course of the past two and a half decades our aims have naturally shifted somewhat and our ultimate aim now is to become the largest charter brokerage house in the world across all three sectors in the next five to ten years.”
“Looking forward, we announced earlier this year that we will be investing £10 million in new charter technology over the next five years and have started that investment by rolling out our new websites over the past few months. Last year we arranged just over 9,000 charter contracts across our 18 offices, so this year we hope to complete more than 10,000. We opened a new office in Geneva in May and will also be opening two new offices in the next six months, which will further increase our market share.”
Chris Leach was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award for his work in aviation at the Cargo Airline of the Year Awards in 2013.