Sparfell & Partners : Rocking the business aviation market
After having sold the majority of Masterjet shares to the Luxaviation group in 2015, Philip G. Queffelec could not bring himself to leave the aviation world. His passion led him to once again start a company which, in less than two years from its creation, has already made a name for itself: Sparfell & Partners.
With his experience acquired during more than 20 years in the business aviation industry, Philip G. Queffelec wanted to take on a new challenge. And yet, he has no need to prove himself in the aviation industry. His path, which is entrenched in the career of a father who was an Air France pilot, led this self-starter to enter the helicopter world by becoming the French representative of McDonnell Douglas in the 1990s, up until founding one of Europe’s most emblematic business jet airlines: Masterjet.
Partners around the world
Following the sale of the airline, Philip G. Queffelec started Sparfell & Partners, a structure based on the concept of a law firm and located in Geneva, “as it remains an essential hub in the European business aviation industry”, said the now-Swiss director. The company’s primary activity is aircraft consulting and brokerage, for business jets, commercial aviation as well as helicopters. For Philip G. Queffelec, Sparfell & Partners is about “returning to the roots that brought me back to my time within McDonnell Douglas”. Although the company is headquartered in Switzerland, the way it works is rather innovative. Philip G. Queffelec works closely with two well-known partners – Christian Hatje, current CEO of Sparfell & Partners, and Jason Mulcock. The founder has also turned to the best experts, who make up around a dozen members of the partnership. Located across the world, their number is expected to grow over the coming months. The idea of such a group of experts allows the company to effectively respond across the entire market: “The ability to have partners around the world provides us with access to certain emerging markets, as well as very important economic zones such as the United States….”, stated the founder of Sparfell & Partners. “The partners, keep their aviation business locally, but work under our banner when needed. Each of these figures is well known in his/her domain in the aviation industry”, highlighted Mr. Queffelec, prior to adding: “There are well-known names both in the commercial aviation sector as well as the helicopter industry. The strength of each partner is not only to fully understand his/her sector, but also his/her market and region. These partners are located across the world and have local knowledge that enables us to access markets that are often difficult to enter”. Last but not least to join is Christian Duhain, former chairman of EADS International (now Airbus), proof of the high level of experience of the company’s partners.
The SILIC solution
Having recruited these top players, Sparfell & Partners developed several businesses, including brokerage. The company may be mandated to sell aircraft regardless of the business segment. In under two years, the company is now leading the market, in particular for large aircraft: “We were the first company to be mandated to sell the first four pre-owned A380 ”, stated Philip G. Queffelec, “the only A380 currently available on the pre-owned market. The ability to take on this challenge means that our skills are recognized at the highest level ”. As for business aviation, Sparfell & Partners reports having performed major transactions, especially with the Luxaviation group that gives it access to its large fleet of aircraft. The Swiss company also remains in high demand from private owners, both in the aircraft acquisition/sales sector as well as for charter flights. The consulting and brokerage firm accordingly offers a very wide range of activities in order to meet all the needs of the market, and even more so as the creation of Sparfell & Partners heralds an upcoming revolution in business aviation. After 20 years as the head of Masterjet, Philip G. Queffelec drew on inspiration from the commercial aviation industry to give momentum to the business aviation sector through a subsidiary of its Swiss holding company based in Ireland. Sparfell Lease International Corporation (SILC) was created to develop the concept of leasing business jets with crews. A practice inspired by commercial aviation and the ACMI (Aircraft, Crew, Maintenance and Insurance) model frequently used by major airlines. While the concept is nothing new, it is however the first time it has been developed in the business aviation sector. This could truly rock the economic landscape of this industry which is currently facing numerous challenges. The activity is chiefly aimed at major industrial and commercial groups that do not wish to purchase their own aircraft. This solution also targets countries that are increasingly using private transport for the travel needs of government delegations. “We hope to become a key partner for the commercial, business aviation and helicopter sectors in the field of transactions. At the same time, we hope to bring about change to the world of business aviation with the SILC solution”, said Philip G. Queffelec.
Embraer topping the list
Could the ACMI concept imported into business aviation lead to a change in the behavior of current and future private owners? Without a doubt, according to Philip G. Queffelec: “The business aviation market has until now been a market of private owners and manufacturers have faced a lot of difficulty selling new aircraft due to the prices on the pre-owned market. A new product such as the SILC solution can only be positive for aircraft manufacturers. We can see that the concept brings great success, as this solution provides numerous advantages. All the benefits of owning have now become inconveniences. Owners buy a product without asking themselves what its depreciation will be over time. Furthermore, owners must take care of maintenance, recruitment of a crew and various administrative aspects. However with this concept, the owner becomes the lessee, exactly like in the automotive sector”.
Payable every month, the contract which runs from two to seven years, includes the choice of aircraft (new or pre-owned), and crew, and takes into account maintenance, insurance and all activities related to operations.
At the end of the contract, the lessee may return the aircraft or purchase it, using the same model as the automotive sector. The lessee may also choose to renew the contract with a different aircraft corresponding to a change in their needs. “We are pioneers in this sector”, declared the director, before adding that “the concept can only grow, as it offers an innovative solution to new challenges for businesses. We provide these clients with a new aircraft under a long-term contract which is often better perceived by shareholders than actually purchasing an aircraft. This approach to optimizing costs is also the same for countries who we believe are a major market for the SILC solution.”
To meet demand, the consortium turned to Embraer, which has proven to be particularly interested in this alternative solution. The choice of the Brazilian aircraft manufacturer is based on several criteria, as explained by the founder of Sparfell & Partners: “We considered that Embraer’s business aviation market had an advantage over its competitors, especially in terms of its large range of products that will enable it to cover all market segments. Moreover, as a former representative of McDonnell Douglas, I was also very aware of the fact that Embraer is present in the commercial aviation field, since the approach of a manufacturer in the sector is a real asset for their large range of business aircraft. Over the years, Embraer has forged a solid reputation, both in terms of effectiveness and the quality of its products as well as in terms of reliability and easy maintenance.” The company is in negotiations with Embraer for the acquisition of around 20 Legacy 450/500 to be operated by the Luxaviation group.
While the initial investment is rather high for Sparfell & Partners, in terms of the aircraft order, acquiring its own aircraft will enable it to have better control of investments, including in the future for resale. “An acquired aircraft remains in any event in our fleet and has a public transport certificate, regardless of the country where it operates. We control the quality of all our services and our investments so that the lessee has no need to manage his transportation tool.” For the director, the regions that are the most interested in this concept are Europe, the Middle East and Asia. The company has also indicated that funds have been raised to launch the SILC solution in this region.
By Frédéric Vergnères © Enrique Pardo