Chapman Freeborn is officially celebrating 40 years of successful aircraft chartering this May. Starting out from humble beginnings from an office in London, arranging contracts for Alaska International Air’s L-100 Hercules freighter fleet, the company has grown steadily and organically.
Today, it is a leading supplier of passenger and freight aircraft charters to major corporations, private individuals, aid agencies and governments, supporting 450 employees and over 30 offices globally.
“It is our people who have made our business what it is today - their dedication and their ability to adapt to market changes,” said Chairman Chris Chapman, congratulating an expert team who have taken Chapman Freeborn to the top of the premier league in aircraft brokering, flight operations and support.
Chris Chapman co-founded the company in 1973 and he will proudly lead a weekend of celebrations for staff during the weekend of May 10-12 to mark four decades of achievement. He also paid tribute to the current senior management team - Carol Norman, deputy chairman, Russi Batliwala, CEO, Shahe Ouzounian, COO and Peter Joarder, CFO, who have each played an important part in guiding the company’s international expansion.
Chapman Freeborn’s first office outside the UK was Frankfurt, opened by Carol Norman who moved to Germany in 1981 and officially launched the company in 1982, initially to focus on the cargo sector. Germany has remained an important market for the company, now home to over 50 employees. Since then, the company has led the charter industry in its expansion into Europe, North and South America, Africa, Asia and Australasia.
Providing cargo and humanitarian charters for 40 years
From moving a 100-ton piece of energy equipment to South America to delivering hundreds of tons of aid for the many relief organisations it works with in Africa and elsewhere, Chapman Freeborn’s cargo activities are diverse.
Chapman Freeborn has been involved in humanitarian charters for 40 years, starting with the World Food Programme’s first ever charter programme from Port Sudan across Africa. Other major exercises include supporting the response to the Asian tsunami, earthquakes in Pakistan and Haiti, and famines in Africa.
This past year the company has tackled complex air logistics challenges with two recent airdrop contracts in Sudan and the Central African Republic. In the last few months of 2012 it arranged the operational support for Ilyushin IL-76 in Sudan and an Antonov AN-12 in the Central African Republic - successfully dropping a combined total of over 4,000 tons of urgently needed food supplies including maize and soya blend.
In recognition of its work in the cargo market, independently-owned Chapman Freeborn has been voted Air Cargo Charter Broker of the Year at the World Air Cargo Awards for the last six consecutive years.
Industry publication Air Cargo News also named Chapman Freeborn as its Cargo Charter Broker of the Year in 2012 and 2013.
In 2010, Chris Chapman was inducted into The International Air Cargo Association's (TIACA) 'Hall of Fame' – lauding his outstanding contribution to the development and growth of the global air charter market.
In addition to charter and leasing services, Chapman Freeborn also launched its on board courier (OBC) division based in 2006 - specialising in the worldwide hand-carry delivery of time-critical shipments.
Arranging private jet charters in new, emerging markets
Passenger charters involving commercial airliners and smaller business jets today account for a significant percentage of Chapman Freeborn’s international business.
In 1987 Chris Chapman set up the charter operation to support David Bowie’s Glass Spider Tour and since then the company has developed a niche expertise managing flights for high profile music tours, movie promotions and other entertainment industry clients. The Rolling Stones, U2 and Coldplay are just some household names to have worked with Chapman Freeborn over the years.
Working with celebrities brings its own unique challenges, but the Chapman Freeborn team prides itself on its discretion and willingness to always go the extra mile for its clients.
Chapman Freeborn was also one of the earliest players to arrange private jet charters for corporate travel in the 1980s too, when the industry was still in its infancy.
The company is doing more business in the private jet sector now and is seeing increased activity in the emerging markets of Africa, China and South America.
“The secret to our success,” adds Chris Chapman “is that after nearly 40 years we still believe in the one size does not fit all philosophy. Our brokers are renowned for their ability to be creative and innovative and our focus has always been on building long term relationships with both clients, and suppliers. As a result, anybody who joins Chapman Freeborn today has the ability to make a difference to how we do our business going forward,” he concludes.