Air Partner boosted by jump in repatriation flights due to coronavirus

Aviation group Air Partner reported a “record month” in April as it was boosted by repatriation flights and the transportation of personal protective equipment (PPE) due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Shares in the company surged as the pandemic drove “unusually high levels of activity” in its freight and group charter divisions.

The company, which runs commercial and private charter flights, said it has seen a “strong start” to the financial year, with its unaudited accounts for the three months to April showing a £6 million underlying pre-tax profit.

However, it said its private jet and security arms have seen “notably lower” activity compared with previous years.

Private jet demand is “very weak” as people follow Government advice to avoid non-essential travel, although it said it anticipates some improvement as international airways start to reopen.

Air Partner said its forward order book is “encouraging”, with high demand for freight and charter flights in May and June.

The group charter division has carried out “significant repatriation and evacuation work” linked to the outbreak, flying people back to their home countries across the world.

It said it has also been involved in flying agricultural workers into the UK from elsewhere in Europe, as well as increased demand for corporate shuttles in the UK and US.

Freight services were “extremely busy” in April, as the company transported emergency shipments of PPE for a number of customers.

Canaccord analysts Gert Zonneveld and Caspar Trenchard said: “The company has made a good start to its financial year, with particularly good performances in group charter and freight.

“As a leading air charter broker, we believe Air Partner is well positioned to benefit from the long-term growth trends in aviation.”

Shares moved 23.1% higher to 47.6p in early trading.