Aero Club clear for take off after restructuring offers new hope

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The organisation suspended operations at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the subsidiary company that operated flight training and managed general aviation operations – as well as the bar and café – became insolvent.

Since then the club has been undergoing a restructuring process led by Alan Roberts, the director of recovery and reorganisation at administrators Grant Thornton, alongside Advocate Marcus Pallot, of law firm Carey Olsen.

A working group was also established to redevelop the club’s governance, activities and facilities, and oversee the formation of a new committee.

Flight training has now been able to restart with the club’s flight training partner, Synergy Aviation, and facilities have reopened to members – including the catering services.

Aero Club chairman Derek Fage said that it was ‘fantastic’ to see people using the clubroom again and that the organisation had received ‘many positive comments’ from both members and non-members, who said they were pleased that the organisation was back up and running.

‘In the early days there were elements of concern about how we could build
a sustainable future,’ he said.

‘But with the great input from people like Alan at Grant Thornton, Carey Olsen, everybody else on the committee and members standing up and helping, we are in a much better position now. Ports of Jersey have also really helped us out.’

Mr Fage added that the club was now moving along ‘cautiously’ and hoped that further opportunities would be presented as pandemic restrictions eased.

‘We are really waiting for relaxation in the Covid requirements to then be able to offer more to our members, be that in the clubroom, through more flight training and even welcoming visiting general aviation enthusiasts,’ he explained.

Mr Roberts, who has an aviation background, said that with the ‘calibre’ of individuals who had stepped forward to form the new committee, it would now be possible for the club to continue making progress.

He added that the restructuring was ongoing and would probably take another year before it was ‘on completely firm ground’ and that he would remain an adviser to the committee for the time being.

‘I believe that it is an essential part of the restructuring exercise,’ he said. ‘If a restructuring is successful the adviser fades into the background.’

Jersey Airport director Robin MacRae said Ports of Jersey was ‘delighted’ to see the club back in business after what had been a very challenging year.

Mr MacRae added: ‘It remains one of the most well-respected private aviation clubs in the British Isles and I am sure that its reopening will be welcome news not only to our local flying community, but to those private pilots off Island looking forward to taking to the skies again and visiting Jersey when circumstances allow.’

President of the Aero Club, the Lieutenant-Governor, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Dalton, said: ‘I am delighted that, in its 70th year of operations, the Aero Club now has a reinvigorated and strong foundation and flightpath upon which it will provide Jersey with a modern and effective private-flying capability.’

The Club is planning a summer relaunch event for its members and other supporting parties.

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