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441-Air Charter Service (ACS), a global leader in providing aircraft charter solutions was founded in 1990 by Mr. Chris Leach as a small specialized aviation company. Today, the company arranges around 7,500 charter contracts per year. The clientele base ranges from private individuals to some of the world’s largest corporations; from governments officials to some of the well known celebrities. With more than 20 years of experience and a worldwide network of offices & annual charter revenues exceeding $400m per year, ACS provides charter solutions utilising aircraft including helicopters, propeller aircraft, private jets, commercial airliners and cargo aircraft. We spoke to Mr. James Leach, General Marketing Director and Group Marketing Director of ACS on a variety of topics. Excerpts from the interview:
Your father Chris Leach, Chairman and founder of ACS has been a doyen in the aviation industry and so is your grandfather who was a pilot. Do you think aviation runs in your blood?
Definitely yes. I have been around aviation my whole life. When I was 11 years old, I remember helping out my father unload a cargo charter; all done by hand. They were only small boxes, a shipment of runway lights destined for Frankfurt Hahn as far as I remember. That was my first experience of ‘working’ on the ramp in the aviation and from that day I was addicted to aviation.
If not aviation, which other industry would you have taken up and why?
Probably I would have worked in the marketing department of some agency. Marketing within ACS itself is so diverse, now with our target audience ranging from celebrities to freight forwarders. Every day is entirely different and I suppose working for a marketing agency dealing with a variety of clients would have been the ideal place for me.
What is the best part of being in the aviation industry?
The global nature of it is the best part of it. I speak to scores of people from diverse backgrounds and ethnicities every day. At the end of the day, we all share one similar passion which is the love for aviation. It is one big global community.
What does a typical day entail for you?
Mornings are usually spent reviewing all the contracts we would have booked the previous day: looking for trends, opportunities and new customers. Then I sit in a Directors’ meeting for one of our regional offices such as Hong Kong where we review their business over the previous month, pondering over any changes that might be required on the marketing side. I also meet up with some of my marketing team to review the content that goes into corporate communications. I also spend some time looking up for the latest trends in the market, studying competitors’ moves in the media etc. On an average day, I attend about 7 – 10 meetings a day pertaining to various matters.
Give us some insight into your educational background?
I went to school over the road from ACS’s first proper office when the company was above a shop in Kingston. So I used to go to the office every day when I was a kid. I then studied Business and Marketing at the University.
Which is your favorite holiday destination?
South of France
What is your favorite cuisine?
How do you like to spend your free time?
I used to go to a lot of concerts and music festivals. At least once a year I went backpacking around countries I had never visited. I went to watch my local football team QPR for every home game and I love movies and have an extensive film collection. All of this was until the 1st of January this year when my daughter was born. Now my free time consists mostly of changing nappies and trying to put her to sleep.
Who are your role models?
Richard Branson, my father.