On 25 January 2017, Jetcraft Chairman Jahid Fazal-Karim spoke with Sally Bundock and Rachel Horne on BBC Business Live. Below is a transcript of the interview.
Now let’s get to the inside track on how the worlds top business leaders get a ride. We’re talking corporate jets and private planes. They can be the fastest way to get between back-to-back meetings in different countries.
The market is quite a tricky one as you can imagine. Jet inventory is rising as manufacturers churn out hundreds of these jets a year. And once it’s been bought, the value of a jet falls rapidly but aircraft broker Jetcraft says that the resale market is still strong with large ultra-long-range aircraft particularly popular among business jet buyers. These types of large cabin jets can link nearly any two points in the globe.
Now, let’s talk to a man that knows all about this, Jahid Fazal-Karim, who is the co-owner and Chairman of the Board at Jetcraft. Good morning and welcome to Business Live.
Jahid: Good morning.
Host: Now before we talk about your business and what it does right now, let’s talk about your story. You escaped civil war at a very young age, at the age of 8, in Madagascar. What happened next and where did you go?
Jahid: I’ll give you the short story because it can be quite long. In 1974 there was an uprising in Madagascar. I’m of Indian origin, most Indians were the merchants in Madagascar and the local population was going after them. My father decided to pack his bags – I had an older brother who is 4 years older than me, and we just left. We were french citizens so we left to the neighbour island called the Comoros islands which was still French at the time. So we escaped a big uprising in Madagascar. Then I went to schools abroad. I love aviation and I love airplanes, so that is what brought me to what I do today.
Host: And you were completely dead set on that as a career weren’t you? At the age of 15 you moved to France. You got on with your career working at Bombardier and Airbus. Working in a big corporate sector for quite a while, and then Jetcraft, that’s a big shift.
Jahid: It is a big shift. As you said I worked for two big companies, Airbus first and then Bombardier. I had amazing careers at both companies. In fact most of the people that I worked with and for are still friends of mine, the owners of Bombardier are very close friends of mine as well. But, at the age of 38 I was at Bombardier and was running sales and marketing for business aircraft. I come from a family of entrepreneurs, it runs in my blood, so I had to do something. I was at a crossroads of going to a corporate path or going on my own. It was the right time for me to leave so I decided to quit my job, and I left.
Host: Quite a big risk.
Jahid: Yes it was a big risk but I think if you’re an entrepreneur you don’t think about risk, you think about reward. It’s just the way we’re wired. So for me it was about trying to find ways to setup a business and looking at gaps in the industry, and trying to develop a business that would fill those gaps.
Host: So you obviously find this gap. Who are your clients, who are these people looking to buy these planes and what sort of prices are they paying?
Jahid: Our clients are really from everywhere and I think that is what makes my company a bit unique when you compare Jetcraft to other brokers and people who actually do what we do. The world is global now and our clients are global, they are from really everywhere and they are diverse, they can be big corporations, high net worth individuals, or very rich people who inherited a fortune. So you have to cater for all of these people, and they are all around the world. We sell in Africa, Asia, Latin America, the U.S., so I had to create a structure that would cater to all of these people.
If you’re a Chinese person and you want to buy a private jet, you want to talk to someone who speaks your language, right? So we setup the structure do to that, and that makes us unique.
Host: Your biggest market is the U.S. with 50% of sales, and then after that is Europe and Asia white are about the same, and the Middle East smaller amounts. Are you a business that is not affected by the global economy? Because it costs millions to buy one of these, and the people who can afford them, the super rich, are not affected by, say, a global slow down; or are you really impacted when the global economy heads south?
Jahid: No you are impacted, you have to be impacted, because actually our business is very well correlated with global economy. You’re impacted because whether you’re rich or not, if you feel confident and you know that your business is doing well and you have a good future outlook then you make investments.
Host: Alright Jahid Fazal-Karim, thank you for coming in it’s been fascinating. Thanks for sharing your story.
If you are located in the UK you can watch the full interview here.