It was over 12 years ago when Jonathan Wolpe, United Charter Services owner, approached established South African charter operators, to discuss brokering flights. At the time this type of service was only a fledgling business globally, and was pretty much unheard of in South Africa.
But a dozen years later attitudes have changed and the role played by charter brokers is now widely recognized by many private aircraft charter clients. We have to ask ourselves why. Why the change?
The benefits are clear: imagine a potentially unmissable business opportunity arises and an urgent face-to-face meeting is required. The problem is that the meeting is in Luanda and the last scheduled flight has already departed. You start browsing charter flights on the internet and up pops a long list of charter companies you have never heard of, or used before.
Which one should you call first? Who will offer you the best value for money? Who will get you there quickly and safely?
This is where a charter broker steps into the breach – you tell them what you want and they do the shopping around for you. A charter broker will use their industry knowledge and their extensive network of aircraft providers to ensure you get the flight you want at the best possible price. Personalized service that professionally caters to the customer’s every need, brokering has taken off around the globe (excuse the pun). The change has come about as the benefits of working with charter brokers have become obvious.
Over the years increasing numbers of businesses, in-house travel departments, government institutions and individuals have made charter brokers their first port of call when it comes to travel arrangements. The headache of arranging private charter flights disappears instantly and you are presented with a turnkey solution the minute you pick up the phone to arrange a flight. You have the peace of mind of knowing that the aircraft you board has been vetted, is run by a reputable aircraft operator, that the aircrew are appropriately qualified to operate the aircraft to the highest level of safety and proficiency, and that you have got excellent value for money. Because charter brokers are renowned for providing this efficiency of service, their networks have expanded across the globe and they enjoy a symbiotic relationship with reputable aircraft operators.
So where does United Charter Services fit in? Having kick-started formalised charter brokering on the African continent, we are now one of the largest charter brokers in Africa. We have a loyal customer base and a vast network of aircraft operators that we work with, to ensure that our clients not only benefit from the broker services we offer, but are also guaranteed the highest levels of service. We can provide solutions for the most complex of travel requirements owing to our vast network of contacts and our ability to think outside the box. United Charter Services takes ownership of each and every flight that is arranged, from the provision of sumptuous on-board VIP catering to personally seeing out and greeting all flights. Every detail, no matter how small, is catered for and our exacting standards ensure that our clients get the best possible service, ensuring their return to United Charter Services time and again. Each and every person at United Charter Services is a highly-skilled aviation professional in their own right, and all operate with the ethos that our customers come first.
In 2008, United Charter Services took the bold step of purchasing an aircraft-operating business in order to provide its clients with medium-to long-range and ultra-long-range executive business jet transportation. After an extensive search for the perfect business, Owenair, based at Cape Town International Airport, was selected due to the fact that its business operation and personnel ticked all the right boxes. Established in 1946, the company was one of South Africa’s most mature aircraft-operating businesses and had, at the time, a number of medium and long range jets available for charter. Jonathan Wolpe fondly refers to the purchase as “being given the privilege to be the custodian of Owenair’s long aviation history”.
Since 2008, United Charter Services has expanded the Owenair fleet which now includes an impressive range of executive business jets – ranging from three popular Bombardier Learjet variants to the luxurious Gulfstream GIII. Owenair attracts aircraft owners who handpick the company for its professional management of their multi-million dollar assets.
The United Charter Group of Companies consists of United Charter Services, Owenair, United Flight Support and United Maverick magazine. It is managed with a proactive and hands-on approach by Jonathan Wolpe and David Howarth (Managing Director of United Charter Services), who ensure that each and every aspect of the group surpasses industry norms for excellence. The dedicated team of individuals that make up the core staff are, without doubt, some of the best people in the South African aviation industry.
Both Jonathan and David have bold expansion plans for the group. The first major change was the re-location of the United Charter Services offices from Dunkeld, Sandton to the main terminal at Lanseria International Airport. In true United Charter style, the new offices were completely refitted not only to provide a well-appointed, practical and comfortable workspace, but also to ensure the height of luxury travel, by offering a dedicated departure and arrival lounge.
With the roll-out of further exclusive executive business jet types, including the rare, ultra-long range Gulfstream GV (which is capable of non-stop 12,000km flights) we can ensure that the portfolio of aircraft offered by United Charter Services provides ideal private travel solutions for group travellers, corporate employees, VIPs, business executives, diplomats, socialites and families. We are available 24/7, 365 days a year, to provide your private aircraft travel solutions.