Jet 8’s jet advisory service is all about trusted relationships. As managing partner and business aircraft sales expert Adrien Chazottes reveals, that can mean telling prospective customers they shouldn’t buy an aircraft at all
Headquartered in Hong Kong and with five mainland China offices, the Dragon General Aviation (DGA) Group is a significant regional force in the business and VIP aviation industry. Founded by local pioneer Diana Chou, DGA operates three companies, L’VOYAGE, providing aircraft charter, VIP travel and lifestyle solutions; Aerochine, the official Bell representative in China, Hong Kong and Macau, offering helicopter sales, support and MRO; and Jet 8, a jet advisory service provider.
At first glance, Jet 8 looks like a broker, but it’s actually much more. Dealing with clients globally, but primarily buying from or selling into the Far Eastern market, Jet 8 works with customers to facilitate the purchase and/or sales process, advising on aircraft types, finance and insurance, then remaining on hand to dispense advice and support even after the deal is done.
Chou established Jet 8 with managing partner Adrien Chazottes in July 2018. Like Chou, Chazottes has a history and continuing connection with Bombardier, having in the past held positions in sales with the OEM and VistaJet. Today, primarily working to serve Jet 8’s customers in South East Asia, he remains expert in the Challenger and Global series, but works across the full spectrum of business aviation. Although Jet 8 shares DGA’s Hong Kong HQ, it also maintains offices in Beijing and Shanghai.
Its website notes Jet 8 first as an ‘Aircraft Advisory’, before mentioning ‘Acquisitions’ and then ‘Sales’. Placing advice before sales, Chazottes says he and his team occasionally find themselves advising against a deal. “We base the business on relationships and trust. Pretty much all our clients return to us, first for unbiased advice and second to buy or sell an airplane. I believe they come back because they trust us and value our advice.
“When we advise a client we’re able to take the emotional attachment to the asset out of the equation. We don’t fall in love with the metal, so it’s easy for us to suggest a client waits for more favourable market conditions before purchasing, or holds on to their aircraft for a few more months before upgrading.
“The emotional aspect of the decision remains the client’s privilege; we’re there to offer unbiased advice. It often happens that we put a dollar value on two-year old option ‘B’, which we think represents better value than new option ‘A’, but if the client prefers ‘A’, then that’s the correct decision for them.”
Whichever option a client goes for, Jet 8 accompanies them on their transaction journey. “It depends on the complexity of the buyer and seller. Some have fleets, with flight departments and everything set up; in which case we might focus on getting the right airplane at the right price, or selling at the correct price. But if we have someone new to airplane ownership, we like to start by offering charter services through L’VOYAGE so they can sample the private jet experience.
“Then we’ll advise on which platform is best for them and take a look at the market. We’ll discuss market trends and the locations of the most suitable aircraft for them. Next comes a deep dive, where we identify a couple of options and explain why we think they’re most suitable. Following that, we’ll do a valuation and once we’ve reached an agreement, we’ll ‘shoot for the airplane’, go out and negotiate for its purchase. At that stage we’ll advise on legal aspects, insurance, financing and operations, helping them evaluate providers rather than supplying those services ourselves. Our strength is in identifying and acquiring the best-fit airplane; there are professional people we’ve worked with in the past who can help with everything else. So, we hold the client’s hand until the airplane is delivered, but they’ll often still call with questions, helping keep the relationship fresh.”
Offering customers new to private aviation charter through L’VOYAGE could be a useful tactic in terms of enamouring them with the possibilities of bizjet flying but doesn’t always promote sales. On the contrary, for some potential owners, the L’VOYAGE experience proves only that charter is the ideal solution to their needs and ought not purchase a jet. “If a client bought an airplane they didn’t really need, it would become an issue very quickly. It’s important for us to be there at the right time, providing the correct advice, rather than just pursuing a deal.
“We had a client keen to buy a jet and have fun for 12 months. I advised against it, because just the acquisition and resale process is a big commitment and it made no economic sense. So we said he should buy a block of 100 hours instead. The cost was comparable, but without the process.”
Chazottes seldom uses ‘I’ as he enthuses over Jet 8, preferring ‘we’. The company’s core team of four is augmented on a consultant basis as required. Two staff work in China. Chazottes explains: “It’s key, because the market is huge, but they also help us overcome language or cultural barriers. We need local people in Beijing and Shanghai who completely understand how to work with and be close to our customers. I take care of Southeast Asia and, if we have a specific requirement, technical inspections for example, we’ll use external partners that we work with on a regular basis.
“Between us, Diana and I have sold around 130 airplanes and behind most there is a new owner. So we had relationships with all these people, a customer base to service, but we needed a team of people we knew and had worked with before. So we chose carefully, opting for quality over quantity.”
While Chazottes was formerly Bombardier’s regional sales director in Singapore, Chou was the company’s original authorised dealer for the Chinese market. The majority of their combined 130 aircraft sales are therefore of Challengers and Globals, but Jet 8’s remit extends to all types. “We have very specific knowledge of the Bombardier product, but we make a point of being unbiased when we asses an aircraft for a client, examining economic drivers, market condition, geographic distribution and technical attributes that aren’t specific to Bombardier.
“I believe we’re also fortunate to have a passion for aviation. Through passion you never stop learning and both Diana and I have gained in-depth knowledge on other models; you inevitably learn a lot about aircraft you’ve been competing with for many years too.” Perhaps most critically of all, he says these two industry veterans are never shy to ask about that which they don’t know. “If we need to fill a gap in our expertise, we’re always ready to call our regular consultants for help.”
Learning and adapting are constant factors in Jet 8’s strategy. Chazottes reckons understanding the product isn’t enough, it’s also essential to nurture a deep knowledge of its clients, their culture and needs. We can’t know everything and that’s one reason why it’s important for us to have people in China. But wherever your customer is, the common denominators are clarity and trust. Clients want to know that the people working for them are telling the truth, maximising the value they’re getting in any transaction and staying around to become a solid partner over the long run, during the airplane’s lifetime with them. That’s what we do.”
Aviation might have been sewn into Chazottes’ DNA. Born in Toulouse, a centre of excellence in French and European aerospace, he entered the industry with Turbomeca Asia Pacific via helicopter support. In 2008 he moved to VistaJet, working to expand its Asian market, before joining Hawker Beechcraft’s European sales team.
After Textron assumed control of the Hawker and Beechcraft brands, Chazottes transferred to Bombardier Business Aircraft, spending four years as sales director in Singapore before joining with Chou to found Jet 8 in 2018.