Air Partner, the world’s leading air charter broker, more than doubled its first half pre-tax profits thanks to a series of one-off large aircraft contracts, including military transport flights, arranged for foreign governments, and some for the US administration.

David Savile, chief executive, said the group had enjoyed a “phenomenal” six months which saw pre-tax profits rise to £2.5m from £1.2m on a turnover, which increased by 46 per cent from £43.6m to £63.6m.

The underlying business was also strong with growth in gross profits of 11 per cent in the first six months.

He warned, however, that the special factors that had inflated the group’s results in the first half were unlikely to be repeated in the current six months.

London-based Air Partner is gaining increasing business in the US, where in recent months it has arranged the aircraft charters to take 290 former Clinton administration staff and media to the Little Rock, Arkansas dedication of the Clinton Presidential Center.

It is also continuing to arrange relief airlift operations into areas of the world affected by the tsunami and is arranging regular flights into Baghdad.

It won the charter business to fly the White House press corps around the US during the US presidential campaign. The deal involved organising 160 flights covering 76,900 miles in 92 days with 10,331 passengers flown into 87 airports.

Around 62 per cent of Air Partner’s business derives from large commercial aircraft chartering with 19 per cent coming from freight aircraft and 17 per cent from executive jets.

Tony Mack, chairman, said it was “unreasonable” to expect the second half to be as “outstanding” as the first half. He also warned that business had become more difficult to predict with much shorter lead-in times.

One car company had only confirmed a contract for two months flying on a new product launch with a 180-seat Airbus A320 one month before the campaign started.

Advanced bookings in the second half of the year were slightly behind the previous period.

The group, which is four times larger than its nearest rival, has opened new offices in Minneapolis and Venice bringing the total to 19 in 10 countries, and plans one additional foreign base during the current half year.

The group is maintaining its policy of increasing its dividend by 10 per cent a year with an increase in the first half payout from 5p to 5½p. Earnings per share in the first half rose by 108 per cent from 8.3p to 17.3p.

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