Air Partner, the global aviation services group, is today providing an update on trading to 31 May 2020. This is the fourth update released during the COVID-19 pandemic and, as previously announced, we anticipate communicating to shareholders approximately every four to six weeks during this time.
Current trading overview
As previously reported, April was a record trading month for the Group. The business has continued to perform well ahead of budget in May. For the first four months of the year, the unaudited management accounts show an expected underlying profit before tax of £7.5m, predominantly driven by high levels of activity in our Freight and Group Charter divisions. The forward order book for June is also strong, with continued demand for Freight and Group Charter services. We are now also seeing some early signs of recovery within Private Jets and Safety & Security.
Group Charter continues to perform well. While our initial crisis activity was emergency evacuations and repatriation work, a large proportion of current demand is for corporate shuttles, as companies in the UK and US seek to safeguard their employees.
Although activity in Private Jets has been weak throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we are now starting to see early signs of recovery. In May, our US Private Jets business had double the level of enquiries for future flight bookings compared to April, and JetCard enquires in Europe have also increased.
We continue to see strong demand for our Freight services and the team has been busy flying emergency protective personal equipment (PPE) from Asia to the UK, Europe and US. In addition to this emergency activity, we are now beginning to see some recovery in core Freight activity as well.
Safety & Security
As previously outlined, a number of our activities in Safety & Security have been adversely impacted by COVID-19 on account of government restrictions. However, we have recently announced several new contract wins for Redline, and we are seeing a slow emergence of business across some of our other Safety & Security product lines.
Cost management and cash conservation
We have enjoyed a strong start to the financial year, however visibility beyond June remains limited. While we expect crisis work to slow down in H2, we expect this to be replaced by a recovery in activity in our core Freight business, Private Jets and Safety & Security. Nevertheless, there are undoubtedly challenging times still ahead and we continue to monitor the situation extremely closely, while prudently managing costs tightly across the Group to preserve cash and maintain our working capital. At the end of May, the Group has normalised cash in the bank of £16.5m, excluding significant customer deposits and JetCard cash. The Group also has access to a total debt facility of £14.5m, comprising a £13.0m revolving credit facility (RCF) and a £1.5m overdraft. As at 31 May 2020, the Group had drawn down £11.5m of its RCF. The RCF is due to expire in February 2023.