As businesses seek clarity on what Brexit will mean the experience of an aviation entrepreneur provides an example of how Scottish SMEs have followed innovative approaches to serving international markets.


Leigh Mellis.



What is your business called?


Where is it based?


What services does it offer?

jetlogic provides a bespoke service to clients worldwide covering private jet and helicopter charter to aircraft management, acquisition and finance.

To whom does it sell?

Clients all over the world from individuals to large corporates, luxury travel companies, music, sport and film industry. They include individuals flying on family holidays, touring musicians, corporates, racing drivers heading for remote tracks and football teams going to matches.

What is its turnover?

Our turnover averages about £3m per year.

How many employees?


When was it formed?

The company was launched in June 2009

Why did you take the plunge?

Many people thought I was rather mad starting my own company in a recession, but I could see a gap in the market which I believed I could fill. It was a very turbulent time in the private aviation sector and many large companies were disappearing. I had worked for three start-up companies in aviation and the superyacht industries and believed the knowledge I’d built would help me establish a successful company.

What were you doing before you took the plunge?

I was working for another aviation company which had a very different business model, based on prepaid jet cards. I believed an alternative would be more successful in the economic climate at that time and launched the first Pay-As-You-Go jetcard in Europe in 2009.

How did you raise the start-up funding?

I made a decision that I’d fund as much of the start-up costs as I could, but I did take on a few smaller shareholders to help. The total start-up cost of £60,000 was all paid back within the first year. Since then we’ve never had any debt and we invest all profits back into the company to help us grow organically.

What was your biggest break?

Volcanic Ash. The eruption of Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland in April 2010 caused enormous disruption to air travel across western and northern Europe over an initial period of six days and the ash cloud led to the cancellation of most European commercial air traffic. We were possibly the only company in aviation that benefitted from this. We were approached by a large US company to see if we could fly someone who needed to get from the US to Europe and onwards to the Middle East. At the same time another company was looking to fly a client from the Middle East to the US. We knew the only airport in Europe still open was in Palma, Majorca, so we organised for both to fly into Palma in their respective private jets then swap aircraft to fly onwards to their destinations. They both became long-term, regular clients and helped with the growth of the business. We also built many great relationships at this time and were approached by Formula 1 teams and business leaders trying to return to the UK.

What do you most enjoy about running the business?

Being able to make quick decisions and going on my instincts. The diversity of clients and partnerships I work with across varying industries keeps it interesting. Every day at jetlogic is an unknown.

What are your ambitions for the firm?

My ambition is to continue growing the business and providing a high level of service. It may seem an odd thing to say, given the nature of the business and the clients we serve, but value for money is an important factor in our market and one of the challenges we face is keeping our business competitive with our rivals. The balance we seek is to provide real value for money for clients while continuing to offer a high level of personal service. We are about to launch Jetcard, a loyalty card for our regular customers in Europe and America and are determined to make a great success of it .

What could the Westminster and/or Scottish governments do that would help?

The Scottish Government has been very helpful to us through Scottish Enterprise which has been hugely beneficial in helping support us with growth over the last 12 months. The reduction in business rates through the Small Business Bonus scheme has also been beneficial to SMEs like jetlogic.

There are challenges ahead post Brexit and we will have to wait to see how the government addresses these.

What was the most valuable lesson that you learned?

Always take a risk and persevere! Leaving my job in a recession and putting my cash into starting jetlogic was a big risk. There were many times in the first nine months when I had doubts, especially on the few occasions I had to make a decision on further funding. Thankfully the perseverance and risk paid off as month 10 was a turning point. I am now entering the ninth year of running my own company and I love it. I still enjoy taking risks but perhaps with experience they are more calculated than they used to be.

How do you relax?

I have two young children so away from work my time is spent doing anything from building Lego, pretending to be the princess in a game of knights or jumping on the trampoline with them … fun but possibly not really relaxing.

If I get a chance to spoil myself then a day on my own at One Spa followed by a good book and a little Rock Rose Gin & tonic.