ASL Aviation Group owns, operates and manages a fleet of over 150 aircraft that provides cargo and passenger capacity for a host of the largest freight carriers and airlines in Europe. CEO Hugh Flynn tells us why Ireland has become a nexus of global aviation, and how ASL Aviation is growing in tandem.
Why is Ireland such a successful aviation hub?
The country had a pioneering attitude towards aviation; the world’s first duty-free shop was in Shannon Airport. Later, Guinness Peat Aviation, an airline founded by Irish billionaire Tony Ryan, who also co-founded Ryanair, was headquartered there and effectively laid the foundations for the global aircraft leasing business to come to Ireland. From ASL’s perspective, the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) has been a huge support for us as we have developed our operations, changed brands, introduced new aircraft types and explored new businesses.
Can you explain ASL Aviations’s impressive growth?
Our 2016 European turnover approached the billion-dollar mark, aided by our unique business approach. Today, ASL Aviation Group flies for blue-chip carriers of passenger and cargo operations under our own brands. Our clients include DHL, UPS and FedEx, and on the passenger side, Ryanair and Aer Lingus. We have all benefited from the practical and flexible approach of the IAA.
What are the sector’s greatest challenges?
We may have an open sky policy, but we do not have a deregulated industry. In Europe, we have civil aviation authorities in every country and this results in regulatory bottlenecks and restrictions to growth. For example, French pilots cannot fly our Ireland-registered aircraft, and vice versa. As a European, I would like to create a regulatory structure that facilitates the best use of assets and creates fewer impediments to operations and market access across the European Union.