When TAG Aviation Holding sold off its assets in 2019 and 2020 and divested from the aviation industry, some may have thought that would be the end of the legacy brand. But its core aircraft and charter management businesses—which were sold entirely to its Asian joint-venture partner Young Brothers Aviation and another private investor—have continued the TAG Aviation name.
“It’s the same TAG logo, the same heritage, the same legacy,” said Steven Young, CEO of TAG Aviation and president of the company’s Asia division. As one of the founding shareholders of TAG Asia, he has had a stake in the company for the past 16 years. “There was no shareholder exchange, there was a shareholder adjustment. In other words, I continued with my shareholding, I just increased it.”
TAG holds AOCs from the UK, Malta, San Marino, and the Cayman Islands, and manages a fleet of approximately 80 mainly large cabin, long-range business jets split evenly between Asia and Europe. Most of them remained with the company after the TAG Aviation Holdings break up.
In a rare interview, Young, who is now the majority shareholder in TAG Aviation Group, told AIN that while the company has been relatively quiet over the past two years, it has been busy behind the scenes. “During that time we’ve really focused on restructuring the business part of it to be more efficient and to have greater harmony between our Asia and European operations,” he said. “We’re generating greater efficiencies between the two organizations in terms of personnel, operating methods, and training and development of our people which is our greatest asset here.” Worldwide, the company has approximately 500 employees.
Young is based out of the company’s Hong Kong office, which is its Asia headquarters. He noted that over the past two years business there has been slow in the wake of the global pandemic. “As you can imagine, the environment out of our control has placed great restrictions on our business, and that continues through today. Although, it is gradually being lifted,” he said. “We’ve increased our presence in Singapore; they’re fully opened up. We have to go where the activity is and at this time, due to the Covid environment, it’s in Southeast Asia.”
He does however see improvement there. “People are beginning to travel because of the loosening of restrictions, so over the next six to twelve months, we see improved activity. We’re quite positive about the future,” he said. TAG also offers AOG support and authorized maintenance for Bombardier and Dassault at its Hong Kong facility, as well as at its FBO in Macau.
While TAG Aviation Holding sold off its European FBOs and maintenance operations in 2019, TAG Aviation still operates the lone remaining TAG-branded FBO in Macau, which opened in 2018. The facility offers a passenger lounge, crew lounge, and showers as well as a 5,000 sq ft maintenance hangar. The company also has access to an 86,000-sq-ft hangar for aircraft storage.
In Europe, with the elimination of Covid restrictions, the company has seen a surge in its charter activity which Young describes as “very healthy.” TAG still maintains its offices at Farnborough Airport, which until 2019 was operated by TAG Aviation Holdings, and also has an office in Geneva.
One unusual feature, which the company instituted five years ago, is its own ab initio pilot training program. Conducted by TAG’s wholly-owned Flight Training Adelaide in Australia, the program offers selected TAG employees who have been with the company for at least five years the opportunity to obtain their pilot certificate and earn type ratings to fly for the company. The first cadet to pass through the program has already earned her Global type rating and pilots a TAG-managed airplane. Limited to one or two candidates a year, the fully-subsidized program has several more trainees in the pipeline.
In terms of company growth, Young takes a more circumspect view. “TAG has never been about being the biggest,” he said. “We really focus on the pursuit of excellence in everything that we try to do, so that could be your service delivery, it could be safety in your operations, everything. So, with that mindset and culture in mind, we take a very cautious and steady approach to anything that we do.”