There aren’t very many individuals on this globe who were granted the honour of having their name being displayed on the hull of a commercial aircraft. Since recently, Russi Batliwala belongs to this selected group of distinguished people, thus joining celebrities like the French poet and aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupery, famous aviation pioneers Amelia Earhart and Elly Beinhorn or - more recently - K&N owner Klaus Michael Kuehne, whose name embellished a Boeing 747-200 freighter formerly operated by Lufthansa Cargo.
The celebration took place at Hahn Airport which marks the start and end point of B747-400F shuttle services across the North Atlantic to Spartanburg, Virginia, for transporting components of car maker BMW between the company’s plants in Germany and the U.S. “I was totally surprised when seeing a red carpet being rolled out within the freighter and welcomed on board to attend a champagne reception,” Russi says. A flabbergasting event, organized by his Chapman Freeborn colleagues and attended by invited guests.
Hahn is an excellent airport for operating charter flights. “They are extremely dedicated and very professional, this facilitates the task,” the manager states.
Charters keep young
“Three decades with Chapman Freeborn, organizing and running countless charters, are a long period,” recalls the 53 year-old, who lives with his family in Frankfurt. “Time really flies.”
“I cannot imagine doing a better job than providing tailored air charter solutions for both cargo movements and passengers.”
“The task is really varied and requires a lot of flexibility and commitment.”
“No missions are alike, they often differ from each other.”
“You are continuously in contact with people and other cultures.”
“This way, one always has a finger on the pulse of time.”
“The charter business really keeps you going and young.”
Shining young eyes
Which was the most rewarding mission within his 30 years of CF commitment?
A humanitarian charter flight from Djibouti to neighboring Somaliland on behalf of an NGO. It was operated by a Chapman Freeborn chartered L-100 Hercules freighter, fully loaded with aid supplies.
Recalls Russi: “After arrival, hundreds of kids unexpectedly came out of the nearby bush and helped to unload the aircraft. This thankfulness of the children and their sheer delight was an unforgettable and touching experience, I will never forget.”
CF has been involved in humanitarian charters for over 40 years, starting with the World Food Program’s first ever charter program from Port Sudan across Africa. Other major tasks include supporting the response to the Asian tsunami, earthquakes in Haiti and Pakistan, and famines in Sub-Sahara regions.
Reviewing the thirty CF years Russi says that during his entire tenure every single year his company achieved profits. “Each cent that we invested we have financed entirely on our own,” Mr Batliwala proudly states.
“And we intend to keep it that way.”