Naval Aviation Constitution: Folks First
Estimated studying time 14 minutes and 16 seconds.
Steve Christiansen is President, Chief Pilot and Proprietor of Maritime Air Constitution Ltd. It is based mostly in Halifax, however he is not after cash.
The truth is, he says his bespoke personal constitution operation happened out of necessity. Christiansen, a forestry engineer, discovered himself driving as much as 120,000 kilometers a 12 months to meet a lot of completely different upkeep contracts for power corporations in Atlantic Canada.
“I purchased a Mooney airplane a very long time in the past and began flying to these areas as a personal pilot,” Christiansen instructed Skies. “Twenty-seven years in the past, Maritime Air began with a PA-31 Piper Navajo out of Halifax. We have grown to a few Navajos and a King Air 100.”
In 1996, when the corporate first began working, airline tickets had been costly. Maritime Air has been busy providing competitively priced journey that permits passengers to skip the hassles of business flying. Then, over time, issues modified.
“I bear in mind 25 years in the past, a last-minute ticket from Halifax to St. John’s would price $1,000 or extra,” Christiansen remembers. “About 5 years in the past, you can fly there for $250. We could not compete anymore.”
In response, Maritime Air lowered from 4 plane to 1 – a Beechcraft Tremendous King Air B200. At this time, the corporate is experiencing a increase available in the market, with its single plane flying about 400 hours a 12 months. As well as, clients who want to fly by plane can constitution an IAI Astra SPX plane flown by Maritime Air pilots by means of a partnership association.
Talking of pilots, many have come and gone through the years, with Christiansen remaining the one fixed. He mentioned the corporate’s present construction as a small boutique operation is by design.
“I do not need to be that firm that has a bunch of planes and lots of pilots that I do not actually know,” he mentioned.
“Now we have a small group of seven extremely certified pilots and no actual turnover. It is a completely different high quality of life that we provide. Greater than something, I am not doing this for monetary acquire. My main job is working for power corporations. I am doing this for My private enjoyment and buyer satisfaction.”
The truth is, Maritime Air is a little bit of an anomaly on this planet of aviation. The corporate depends completely on phrase of mouth and doesn’t do any promoting.
“As soon as we put somebody on board, they’re going to by no means go wherever else after that,” Christiansen says. “I actually take pleasure in working with our purchasers. Typically occasions, they change into good pals.”
The truth is, it’s this degree of buyer care – by way of service and security – that he considers the key to Maritime Air’s success.
Kathleen Legg, director of flight operations and security officer at Maritime Air, is precisely the place she needs to be.
A former Royal Canadian Air Cadet who stayed “so long as this system would let me,” Legg completed her personal pilot license with the Air Cadets the summer season earlier than beginning at Acadia College.
“It modified my life,” she mentioned. “I dropped out of college and went to pilot coaching at Moncton Aviation Faculty.”
After ending faculty in 2012, she labored as a flight dispatcher, skydiver pilot, Cessna Caravan pilot and — after being laid off within the fall of 2015 — as a waitress. Sooner or later, Legge heard that Maritime Air was on the lookout for a captain for King Air.
“I made a decision to take an image and it turned out to be one of the best factor!” Root. “I can fly a airplane from level A to level B — that is the simple factor — however my actual specialty is customer support. That is my sturdy swimsuit.”
With simply over 4,000 hours on her log as we speak, Legg has held a sequence of progressive positions at Maritime Air. At this time, she is the corporate’s solely full-time workplace employee and a line pilot, along with carrying many different hats.
“It is undoubtedly a dream job,” she instructed Skies. “For me, it is about assembly individuals and offering a degree of service that I would not have had the chance to offer in any other case.”
When a personal constitution buyer calls Maritime Air, Legge is often the one to reply the cellphone. From first contact, you propose their whole journey and are sometimes the pilot ready to welcome them on board. Generally, you are there to greet a high-profile passenger — David Letterman, Bryan Adams, and well-known NHL hockey gamers who’ve all flown on Maritime Air.
“These are individuals I by no means anticipated to satisfy,” Lege admitted, “however in actual fact, these are individuals who let me title them. Apart from that, our workers does every little thing they’ll to make sure the anonymity that our clients worth. We We by no means ask for photographs or autographs – it is our appreciation that units us aside.
It is also concerning the little issues. Legge retains an inventory of buyer preferences on her cellphone. She makes positive the airplane is stocked with every little thing clients ask for — and has been recognized to cease at Tim Hortons to choose up espresso on her technique to the airport.
One among Maritime Air’s hottest locations is the Fogo Island Inn, a luxurious specialty resort positioned on small Fogo Island, off the coast of Newfoundland. Legg credited hotelier Zita Cobb’s saying—”Hospitality is rooted within the love of a stranger”—as one among her inspirations for customer support.
Other than passenger flights, Maritime Air additionally transports incoming human organs for the aim of transplantation on the Queen Elizabeth II Well being Sciences Middle in Halifax. The identical degree of care and a spotlight applies right here as effectively. The truth is, Liji will transport kidneys, tissues, livers, hearts and lungs to the hospital in her personal automobile when wanted.
“I’ve constructed an incredible relationship with the hospital,” she mentioned. “I went into the working room to look at a surgical procedure, and so they got here and flew with me. It is all about constructing relationships. It is taking individuals on board and making them your loved ones as shortly as potential.”
This strategy pays off in word-of-mouth referrals, she mentioned.
“The final two years have been our busiest ever, and we’ve not invested any cash in pursuing advertising or gross sales,” Legg mentioned. “It has been exceptionally busy. I feel it is an inflow of pent-up journey after the pandemic. We have retained lots of our pandemic-era enterprise as a result of individuals discover it extra handy. It comes at a better worth, however it’s very efficient.”
Full service course of
Other than Maritime Air’s constitution companies, Christiansen and a seafood enterprise companion determined to open Gateway services in 2010. At this time, the operation is a conduit for Atlantic Canadian lobster destined for dinner plates around the globe.
“We deal with between 500 and 800 tons of seafood merchandise each week and ship them all around the world,” Christiansen defined. “On the time we constructed Gateway, FedEx was altering from Boeing 727s to 757s and wanted a brand new dwelling for its plane. We agreed to construct a facility that might focus 25 p.c on FedEx companies, 25 p.c on air cargo, and 50 p.c cent on normal aviation companies on a set operations foundation.”
Gateway’s services present a full vary of plane dealing with and fueling companies, and are the only real provider of avgas at Halifax Stanfield Worldwide Airport (YHZ).
Christiansen is set to help normal aviation on the airport.
“I come from a normal aviation background, so I instructed our workers that everybody will get a pink carpet,” he instructed Skies. “In the event that they arrive in an outdated Cessna 152, they’re going to get a pink carpet on the ramp — and so they cannot consider it. We are going to by no means be an organization that does not welcome them.”
He envisions including a brand new hangar to the Gateway services to accommodate company and private plane. On the similar time, there are some discussions about rising Maritime Air’s constitution fleet with one other King Air 200 or a bigger King Air 350. Both means, the demand is there.
“Our clients who come to Gateway are the identical clients as Maritime Air,” Christiansen laughed. “Once we welcome them into the constructing, they don’t need to go away.”
It is the identical story on the firm’s third arm, World Aviation Providers. The plane upkeep service supplier relies at Gateway’s services and gives service to all YHZ operators, except for Air Canada and WestJet.
World Aviation Providers can accommodate plane as much as a Boeing 767 mannequin and works alongside Gateway’s services to load and keep plane earlier than sending them on their means.
Collectively, the corporate’s three branches — Marine Constitution, Gateway Amenities, and World Aviation Providers — make use of about 50 individuals.
“Steve (Christiansen) could be very selective about who he works with,” Kathleen Legg mentioned. “He chosen an excellent group of individuals. He did a formidable job of constructing normal aviation in Halifax.”
Folks-centric by design
Christiansen himself lives a people-first strategy. Based on Legge, he likes the King Air’s show to curious households on the airport.
A girl who was deathly afraid of touring by chartered sea airplane to assist her overcome her worry. After taking the taxi at King Air, she was unable to proceed. Christiansen provided to fly her on his personal airplane totally free, and the lady was finally in a position to fly commercially.
“For me, I feel in your complete course of – from the hangar and upkeep to the airport and leasing – it’s the individuals that actually make the distinction,” Legg concluded.
“The pink carpet is a superb instance. We all the time greet our constitution passengers and FBO visitors with the pink carpet. It’s used for each buyer, it doesn’t matter what airplane they’re on. They’re greeted with a smile and a welcome.
With information from Tivoli movies