By Athol Franz
On Friday, 17th November, Swift Flite based at Lanseria International Airport celebrated its 25th birthday in style with invited guests from many sectors of commercial aviation as well as Lanseria’s management and long-term customers.
Swift Flite was founded by two aviation professionals Nola Kropman and David James who understood the need for superb client service and support in the business charter industry. The company’s hands-on approach and commitment to client confidentiality and privacy, underpins their reputation for high-end service that is a prerequisite for today’s travellers.
Some background on how Swift Flite started
Nola Kropman first met David James in the late seventies when they both flew for the same charter company. A few years later, they were flying a Cessna Citation together on a regular basis to Sua Pan, Botswana for a charter company Speedair which had a client who enjoyed having the pair as the pilots. It was this client who planted the seed, when he said, “Why don’t you start your own charter company? It is you two pilots who do all the work of keeping the clients happy.”
Nola and David spent lots of time in Sua Pan and this is where they started thinking about the possibility of applying for a charter licence. They obtained some aircraft into the fleet and the charter requests came in fast and furious. At the time they were one of the only charter companies run by pilots and this was exactly what the clients wanted. As they became busier there was soon the need to take an administrative role in the business. Nola says; “this was when I gave up my permanent flying job to run the company.” We continued to expand, by referrals from existing clients and aircraft owners. Clearly, we were doing something right.”
Two years ago, Nola decided to retire and she thanked Mike Clark who took over from her as the CEO. “He certainly allowed me to retire with ‘total peace of mind,’ knowing that he was doing a superb job of running the company, helped along by our amazing Linda Naidoo and her dedicated team. I miss you all as you have become like family to me.”
In her retirement Nola spends much time collecting flying ants for the sixteen baby Swifts that she is raising. “It is a full-time job and just one of the things I am doing with my time. The helpless chicks fall out of the many nests that we have in our hangar, which happens every year around this time. I also get given some from Friends of Free Wildlife when they have too many baby Swifts to manage.
Guests at the 25th Birthday Function
What Swift Flite offers
Where technology dictates the pace, business people and leisure travellers are looking for ways to make their lives easier. Moving efficiently, safely and cost effectively from one point to another is just the start and where Swift Flite excels. They make it all about personalised service, whether this is a request for a business charter or a leisure charter. In addition, Swift Flite has had an accident-free safety record since inception in 1992 is 25 years. As such, our aviators have earned a reputation in the air travel industry for safety, reliability and professionalism.
The Swift Flite fleet consists of the following business aircraft:
- Gulfstream GIIB - there can be no higher rating for an aircraft that has served all five branches of the US military. The Gulfstream GIIB and GIII are twin-engine, wide-bodied executive jets designed for economical long-range travel of 6 100kms nonstop
- Bombardier Challenger 350 – can operate 5 500kms by air with eight passengers and the kind of distance the Challenger 350 super midsize business jet can travel nonstop. The design and construction of this executive jet for air charter is in line with the company’s effort to provide ‘more efficient, sustainable and enjoyable transportation everywhere’
- Beechcraft Hawker 4000 - comfortably seats eight passengers in double-club seating formation, accompanied by two crew members and a hostess. Styled with wonderful cabinetry, upholstery and fine materials, this super midsize business jet is in a class of its own
- Bombardier Learjet 45 - this midsize corporate jet boasts more head and shoulder room than any other aircraft cabin in its class. The eight reclining passenger seats are arranged in double-club seating style and can slide and swivel thanks to in-base and floor tracking functionality
- Embraer Phenom 300–operating at 45 000 feet, the aircraft is pressurised to a cabin altitude of 6000 feet so travellers feel less tired and enjoy a more comfortable flight. In addition, the aircraft’s large windows allow a lot of natural light by which to work or read
- Nextant 400XT - this jet excels in performance and is also the most eco-friendly aircraft in its class because of its unrivalled fuel consumption. From Lanseria to Kinshasa or Brazzaville in just over three-and-a-half hours or a short hop to Harare, Zimbabwe in 75 minutes
Because turboprops are more fuel efficient than business jets they are also the economical choice for short-distance air travel. With a turboprop charter one can fly when and where one needs to, very often saving time and money. Saving time means maintaining optimum productivity, particularly for top management on a business trip, or maximising downtime if the intention is leisure travel.
- Embraer 120 - is a twin-engine turboprop custom built for short, regional routes. Designed to carry 30 passengers, it is fuel efficient and therefore cost effective for flights between airports in South Africa, into Africa and to airport landing strips at key business and tourist charter destinations on the continent
- Beechcraft 1900D - is described as one of the most popular 19-passenger aircraft ever designed for the business charter market. Manufactured in the US, it is particularly sought-after amongst Swift Flite clients who need to travel between airports with relatively short runways
- Beechcraft King Air 350 - superior levels of comfort typically associated with the Beechcraft line. The King Air 350’s carefully crafted leather seats are designed with generous head and shoulder room and positioned in such a way that passengers are able to move easily around the cabin during long-distance journeys
- Beechcraft King Air 200 – seating seven to 10 passengers, the King Air 200 is known for its excellent cruise performance as high as 27 000 feet if necessary to avoid inclement weather as well as its impressive take-off and short-field landing abilities
- Pilatus PC12 – with eight to nine-seats, the Pilatus PC12 is the world’s best-selling single-engine turboprop. With its ability to handle short take-offs and landings, the PC-12 can get one closer to one’s destination
David James, Nola Kropman, and Mike Clark
Owning your own aircraft is first prize when quick, safe and frequent travel beyond the main city centres is key to your business, making time management as crucial to its success as your ability to turn a profit. However, Swift Flite can also help maximise the return on your investment with its tailored aircraft management programme. Should you prefer to make your aircraft available for charter flights when you are not travelling, Swift Flite will connect with clients keen to use this facility and assist generate revenue for you by availing them of this service.
Swift Flite’s transparent and flexible aircraft management programme is designed to ensure maximum financial returns. When you are not using your aircraft, Swift Flite will arrange business charters and tourist charters to offset your ownership costs with charter revenue. Swift Flite takes the pain out of managing a substantial investment such as an aircraft for charter by taking over all financial transactions associated with aircraft operations as well as crewing requirements. Swift Flite essentially ensures you that it will take care of your aircraft and crew itineraries so that these will be despatched and briefed respectively via a seamless communication system. Swift Flite also manages scheduled or unscheduled maintenance and parts’ procurement. If it’s regular, it should be contractual and managed via an aircraft maintenance tracking programme. Ownership of an aircraft is straightforward and stress-free with Swift Flite’s tailor-made aircraft management programmes. Swift Flite’s experience in this field creates a service that takes responsibility for the administrative, operational and regulatory burdens of this type of acquisition. Its consultancy service will assist you with all aspects of business aviation and at the same time client confidentiality is guaranteed.
By African Pilot