Mulderig group buys Longtail
Robert Mulderig has had a passion for flying since taking his first lesson at law school but it wasn't until this month that he realised his dream of owning a private jet company.
An investment group led by Mr Mulderig, who is chairman of Butterfield Bank, closed the deal to take over the group of companies comprising Longtail Aviation from Flagstone Re on June 1, six months after starting initial discussions.
Now he is looking to turn the company into a full charter airline operating two heavy Falcon three-engine long-range jet aircraft and a light Citation jet and catering to the business and leisure markets.
“I am a pilot and I guess for about the last four years I have been flying a number of Longtail Aviation's aircraft so I came to know them that way as a customer,” he said.
“Under Flagstone the company was a flight department serving their corporate owner but when we met six months ago I suggested that there might be an opportunity to turn it into a business concentrating more on the charter customer and that seemed to meet Flagstone's needs and desires and so we worked out a deal.”
Mr Mulderig takes over an established company, formed in August 1999, which owns one aircraft, the Citation, which is ideal for small groups of two to four people flying to the East coast to places such as Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Florida, as well as the Cayman Islands for business trips and St Maarten in the Caribbean for holidays. The company manages two Falcon 900s, perfect for groups of 12 to 14 for long haul flights to the likes of London and Paris, in addition to South America.
It is also in the process of acquiring Aeroshares and Charter Auction.com in New Hampshire, which is run by Don Bishop, who has more than 30 years of experience in the charter brokerage business, while offering access to a fleet of aircraft across the world to supplement Longtail's existing planes, for example covering the leg from Moscow to London.
And Mr Mulderig believes that being based in Bermuda will give his company a competitive edge over its rivals elsewhere.
“With the planes based in Bermuda I believe we have a real price and time advantage over the competition,” he said.
“For example, an insurance company might want to fly to New Jersey to visit with AM Best and if the plane is here we can take you up in the morning and bring you back in the evening in four hours flight time, whereas it would take twice as many hours if you went with someone from outside.
“We think we can really deliver a significant amount of value to our customers.”
He sees a number of opportunities to help people buy their own aircraft and manage it for them by adding it to Longtail's fleet, with the only hangar for lease on the Island renting out space to planes based here and in transition from overseas. The company also provides a maintenance service for aircraft.
His target market will be primarily the business and leisure travellers, with a 50:50 split between the two. “We see the business market and leisure market as being equal, with the business use being much more frequent with probably more individuals who will use us two or three times a year,” he said.
Longtail's team of 17, including seven pilots, led by director of flight operations Marty Amick, will all be kept on as part of the transaction, with an extensive knowledge and experience of the aviation business and the first non-US carrier to be awarded the platinum rating the highest possible for safety by the Aircraft Research Group/US. The name was also retained, as Mr Mulderig felt Bermuda's premier aviation company was best represented by the national bird.
The new company's official launch was marked with a reception on Monday evening with potential clients getting the chance to try out a brand new Falcon demonstration jet flown over especially for the event and get behind the controls of the cockpit.
“I was pleased with the turnout and people seemed to be genuinely interested in the new venture,” he said.
Mr Mulderig, who spent most of his career in insurance, was the CEO of the now defunct Mutual Risk Management before retiring in 2002 and joined the board of directors at Butterfield Bank in 1996 prior to becoming chairman in 2008, succeeding Brian Duperreault.
Having obtained his pilot's licence in 1978, he rediscovered his love for flying following his retirement with more time to spend in the air.
In the future, he plans to bring more planes under the company's management in both Bermuda and the US and to upgrade the website offering special last-minute deals on empty or half full one-way flights.
For more information contact 293-5971, e-mail info[AT]longtailaviation.bm or visit the website at www.longtailaviation.bm
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