A company launched from necessity and a pandemic

It was during the covid – 19 lockdown, that Cross Border Air Inc was launched. Cross Border Air Inc (a sibling company to Monarc Global), less than a few weeks old, has already facilitated over 20 -25 freight and cargo flights around the world with over $45 million in turnover.

Like most business ideas, Cross Border Air Inc. launched out of necessity and opportunity, and “being there at the right place and the right time, but in this case, the company also derived from a pandemic” said Co-founder Royce Crown.  

“It was amidst the covid-19 lockdown; most businesses were struggling to get freight and cargo out of specific countries due to the halting of commercial flights. And to make matters worse, these businesses were also being price gouged of up to 400% more than the actual cost” said Crown.

At the time, Royce and his team from Monarc Global (a company specialising aviation technology software for charter operators) were already facilitating repatriation flights for stranded Australians overseas plus working on their product Travech, when they started receiving calls from companies enquiring about freight and cargo services. 

Founders Barry Shepherd, from Kingwood Texas (with a history of experience in logistics) and Royce Crown (over 20 years in the private charter and aviation industry) soon realised the opportunity and a gap in the market for a reliable, efficient and competitively priced service to be offered. With an office in the U.S.A and Australia, Cross Border Air Inc facilitates only whole aircraft chartering, and they don’t specialise in small deliveries.

“We don’t deal with small deliveries. We started the company out of an urgent need to move medical supplies (essential) and other non-essential items, and so we want the company to reflect its purpose as being a solution for full aircraft cargo shipping, the client must have enough cargo to fill an entire aircraft. We are in the market to provide long term solutions for the client, giving customers competitive price points by providing multiple runs for their freight and cargo delivery” Crown said.

Cross Border Air Inc is a freight and cargo aircraft charter company, utilising airliners and freighters for long term solutions in freight and cargo, bypassing the need for the use of commercial airlines. 

 End press release.

February Operator Highlight – Avcair

Phil Everitt – Chief Operating Officer, Avcair

What does a typical workday look like for you?

My typical work day is a very early morning coffee at my dining table, viewing and responding to immediate emails. This can sometimes take me through to 10 or 11am. Then a shower, change of clothes and head into the office. I may remain there for the day or into and out of cafes/other offices for meetings. Generally home by 6pm, walk the dogs, cook some dinner and end the night with a final task back at my dining table viewing last minute emails/tidying up some business/project priorities. However, this is usually done with a nice glass of red at hand. 

What led you to want to get into aviation?

I have been in aviation for almost half of my life. First and foremost the attraction was to surround myself by my purest of passions- aircraft. I started flying in charters between UK and Caribbean at 21, which led me on to long haul flying on 747, 777 and 767’s out of Auckland for Air New Zealand. Over time and experience I reduced my flying hours and started in aviation management and leadership, also experiencing alternative leadership roles in other industries to build knowledge of business; while completing a Masters of Business. I am now proudly positioned as a Chief Operating Office for Avcair, which is where I feel is a perfect place for me at this time in my life, still surrounded by my passion.

Tell us about your current fleet of aircraft and helicopters

Avcairs offering extends across servicing oil and gas companies, mining, fuel management, aeromedical aviation provision, as well as private passenger charter services.

Avcair has several aircraft under management and we also own our own LR60 Learjet, and we are in the process of purchasing a second LR60. Our management covers King Air 200’s and 300’s, Phenom E300 and soon an additional Phenom 100. Of the 2 LR60’s we own, one is specifically configured for aeromedical, while the second will be the primary Private Charter jet. Avcair is a business that is capably equipped, with operational expertise and a diversified service offering which is comprehensive enough to manage all streams of non-RPT aviation. We have 104 years of experience and Avcair has owned its own AOC for the last 19 years. We continue to grow and are constantly looking for development opportunities, new aircraft to manage and purchasing our own aircraft to service global passengers. We are a company with an exceptional team of employees, and a strong focus on growth.

What do you think are some of the biggest challenges facing aviation today?

Specifically for me, I believe the biggest challenge is the lack of ‘economy of scale’ within Australia for private jet travel. This has several leading factors, such as poor general engagement amongst the population, extremely well developed RPT services, high barriers of entry for providers and brokers, but most predominantly a lack in ease of service and fundamental private jet awareness for a financially stable ‘mum and dad’ type client. By this, I mean to suggest that few people would know where to go to book a private flight directly in the same manner they may book an RPT (Virgin/Qantas) flight, and or a hotel. This also extends a mitigated awareness in the next generation of astute individuals/couples/families (not just ultra-wealthy) looking for a cost effective, yet tailored travel experience.

A lack in economy of scale keeps private jet travel expensive. Simply put, at present, if you wish to privately fly from Brisbane to Sydney (one of the busiest commercial routes on the planet), you would likely need to pay for the empty leg to have the private jet return to Brisbane; due to a lack in an additional group purchasing the return flight. This makes the trip twice as expensive as it should be for the initial purchaser of the flight.

I believe one potential solution is to make private jet travel more accessible to the ‘mum and dad’ and astute traveler, so in particular, empty legs can be sold and reduce overall costs. The goal would be to move away from an ‘empty leg’ type discounted offering, and instead just have a better developed industry. This would directly compete with RPT business class prices, however with private flying it allows passengers to choose their own travel schedule, avoiding large airport crowds and enjoying the comfort and luxury of your ‘own’ plane.  This cannot be done without significant development and implementation of an excellent private travel online platform. Monarc Global has been pivotal in this and have created a platform which will increase accessibility for a larger private flying community. This will increase empty leg sales, create economy of scale and thus reduce prices further, making it continuously more attractive industry for the general public to utilise.

What’s the best or worst career advice you’ve been given?

Best advice-

‘The behaviours you walk past are the behaviours you accept, so always be brave enough in your leadership to know when to stop walking, listen, then talk’. This resonates for me in more ways than just behaviours, as I think it includes noticing capabilities, skill, effectiveness, professionalism and kindliness. Never be afraid to stop, listen and talk and by doing so be clear in communicating what excellence in all facets of performance should be. In most scenarios, I find this allows others to be given the opportunity to see how they can do things better and truly understand. It also allows me to understand others, learn from them and continue to be a strong leader who can support them as well as the business. 

Worst advice-

Don’t challenge the norm as this is how we always have done it’. I believe we should always challenge the norm, reflect on our day, and continuously accept change. This is what drives innovation, development and new ventures. This needs to be balanced with being present and in the moment, however a ‘reach for the stars’ mentality has always been my go to trait, and I am certainly grateful for it.

What was your most memorable flight?

This would be the inaugural Christchurch to San Francisco flight I operated on while with Air New Zealand almost 20 years ago. It was a very long day, however as a handpicked crew member, and with some unique and loyal passengers selected for the flight, it was a wonderful experience and one I will never forget.

When is your busiest time of the year and why?

Generally it is the cruise ship season in the pacific region. This is primarily due to an uplift in aeromedical flights where we have many passengers either injured or falling sick on cruise ships or in the foreign ports they visit.

What’s your favourite city to fly into and why?

Toss up between London and Auckland. On a good day, flying in from the east into London, you often fly along the Thames, getting a fantastic view of London and all the sights it has to offer. I must say though, you cannot beat hitting good old NZ after many hours over the pacific, and looking down over the bay of islands at the beautiful and often rugged North Island coastline. Then descending across the Hauraki Gulf into Auckland. Sublime.

www.avcair.com

Monarc Global System Gives Lift to Air Charter Industry

MONARC GLOBAL’s innovative application of its hi-tech booking system, to the aviation charter industry, may be the re-set this challenging travel sector has been looking for.

What Monarc does is to initiate significant operational efficiencies and commercial gains for private asset operators. It has begun with private jet operators and air charter companies, but will over the long term extend to marine, rail, road freight and more, according to founder and CEO, Royce Crown.

Monarc Aviation was born in 2017 with a small booking app, its name coming from an acronym of MONica And Royce Crown.

Today the application provides instant access to corporate jets on-demand; provides immediately available aircraft to assist with bushfires, and other natural disasters. 

Crucially, Monarc Global is the best solution developed so far for general aviation charter operators and aircraft owners. It relieves what, up until now, has been an aircraft operators’ ‘pain point’: the manual charting of fleet operations and bookings.

Monarc’s system also lowers operational costs for operators while providing guaranteed prices and availability direct to customers.

OVERCOMING ‘PAIN POINTS’

Mr Crown said these ‘pain points’ aviation companies faced were the “archaic, lengthy processes required to identify a quote price for a charter service, involving manual calculation each time a request is made”. 

For most companies, he said, this leads to many enquiries not converting to sales. In general, charter companies find that only about one in 20 quotes actually convert to sales.

In addition, the existing system is really only targeting a small portion of the potential market.

“Then there is the excessive and duplicated time required to generate and receive such quotes,” Mr Crown said. “There is significant wastage, due to inefficient logistical issues, leading to completely empty or partially empty flight legs, wasting fuel and compromising profits.”

Mr Crown said an unfortunate knock-on effect from these manual systems is that customers lack trust in individual operators, who do not have the brand recognition of commercial operators.

BORN OF EXPERIENCE

The business began as a helicopter airline, offering a solution for many travellers to the traffic snarls on the M1 between the Gold Coast and Brisbane. 

The Crowns met with Michael Cooke, CEO of Avcair, to discuss the potential for crowdsourcing seats on jet aircraft and, as a result, Monarc Aviation was born in 2017 with a small booking app.

“We started to grow traction, but found it difficult to get prices from operators – and customers were beginning to get frustrated,” Mr Crown said. “We started losing business and clients …”

It was a difficult time that was, nevertheless, showing potential. This potential, however, was hard to realise without greater automation.

A frustrating case was that of Monarc clients from Macau who wanted to charter from Macau to Australia.

“We couldn’t get pricing or availability from any operator until three days after the flight was meant to depart,” Mr Crown lamented. “We knew there had to be a better way.”

FLYING HI-TECH

So founders Monica and Royce Crown got to work and conceived a Global Distribution System (GDS) – the type of the platform developed by major airlines – for non-scheduled aircraft over the 2017-18 Christmas break.

Monarc Aviation was shut down and Monarc Global was born as a technological solution, to automate quoting and booking for aircraft operators, so brokers and agents could get instant prices and live availability.

At this stage, Cameron Deane came on board as co-founder and chief technology officer (CTO), joining Monica and Royce .

Cameron Deane – who graduated with a Griffith University first-class honours degree in Software Engineering and has a 20-year-plus pedigree in developing aviation industry software for clients including Boeing Australia, Virgin Blue Airlines and Temando – continues to lead the Monarc tech team into new areas of development.

As a co-founder of Temando Pty Ltd, Mr Deane was an integral part of all aspects of the business – technical, operational and leadership – and was a hands-on participant from early conception right through to the final acquisition stage. It would seem like an ideal career flightpath for developing an innovative startup company like Monarc Global. 

DEVELOPING FAST

As part of the development process, Monarc Global joined the Brisbane-based River City Labs Accelerator program in June 2018. In the River City Labs energised and collaborative environment, the Monarc team developed an entire technology platform that links all stakeholders in the supply chain, including consumers, asset operators, brokers, agents, aggregators and businesses.

“Monarc Global’s solution will lead to significant operational efficiencies and commercial gains for private asset operators as well as to all businesses who can utilise these assets for freight or travel, tour providers, tourism industry bodies and others,” Mr Crown said.

“It creates new markets of cost-effective travel for consumers, as well as delivering environmental and other benefits to industries such as insurance, defence, government, medical and pharmaceuticals.

“Our core innovation is a holistic system that streamlines a number of critical, manual, processes within, thereby providing private charter operators with a more consistent and predictable business and an enhanced ability to focus on safety and growth.”

With a robust proving and testing regime, Monarc Global is close to realising the long-standing vision of Monica and Royce Crown.

“Our vision at Monarc Global has always been the same, to make positive changes in the aviation industry by leading the way to technology as a solution – and to provide accessibility to charter aircraft to everyone.

“Our system is being built to eventually integrate with meta-search sites such Expedia and Webjet, where 81.9 percent of people go to search, compare and book air travel,” Mr Crown said.

“To not have charter, as an option, means 81.9 percent of people will never think of charter as an alternative. Monarc Global should change that forever.”

ROYCE CROWN ON FUTURE AVIATION DEVELOPMENTS

While the general aviation market in Australia has had its challenges in recent decades, the future is looking up with new technologies coming through.

It is by applying new technology to improve the industry – and clear up its choke-points – that founders like Monica and Royce Crown are helping to transform the sector for a brighter future. 

“Australia has always wanted to be viewed by the world as a growing country with megacities and innovative thinking, yet, there is no helicopter landing platform in Sydney CBD and until recently, no helicopter landing in Brisbane CBD,” Mr Crown said.

“The Sydney Harbour Bridge goes from five lanes on each side to two lanes in the Sydney CBD and people wonder why traffic is so backed up? My point being, regulations and innovation should be about forward thinking and the ability to plan for amazing outcomes.

“To go back to the Sydney Harbour Bridge, this is the perfect example of forward thinking and innovation, yet just after the bridge, it seems like the future was a future problem.”

Innovations coming through that will transform the aviation and aerospace sector in Australia include unmanned aerial vehicles, the potential for ‘flying taxis’ and an opening up of single-seat sales for air charters.

Regulations around selling charters by the seat have been being looked at for many years, but so far there has been no regulatory outcome. 

Mr Crown said all of these areas needed a clear, concise and innovative approach to regulation – not the indecision and inconsistency of the past. There were some encouraging signs.

“Canberra has already agreed to Uber unmanned aerial taxis to be tested in Australia,” Mr Crown said.  Recent and continuing crackdowns on illegal charters were also a positive sign from Australian authorities, he said, so were proposed new drone operation regulations. Plus, urban flying car regulations and infrastructure were being considered now, even though such craft still look a long way off.

He hoped such future innovations would not suffer the same kinds of indecision and apathy that CBD helipads had endured over decades.

“Currently, Sydney and Brisbane are landing pad free, although permission has been granted to build a helipad, construction is behind. Since the initial approval, the regulators seem to be loosening the very tight grip,” he said.

Read the original article at Business Acumen

Discover more about Monarc Global’s software Travech