“It is all about family.”
Aviation Registry Group is best known for two places: The Registry of Aruba and the San Marino Aircraft Registry. But the family business goes all around the world. Words: Alasdair Whyte
The Registry of Aruba family always have their shades on hand. Third from left, Jorge Colindres, founder and chairman.
President of San Marino Registry, David Colindres, means business.
MORE THAN 100 people work for Aviation Registry Group around the world – it has inspectors on every continent apart from Antarctica. As well as advising governments, regulators, and airlines on safety, it is best known for running The Registry of Aruba and the San Marino Aircraft Registry. This means that it is responsible for regulating more than 500 business jets and more than 30 aircraft operators. It is a big organisation. However, Sir Jorge Colindres, founder and chairman, says it is simple: “It is all about family – our customers, partners and staff are family.”
Aviation Registry Group’s three partners also share the same name. David Colindres, Jorge’s son, is president of the San Marino Aircraft Registry with his wife Lindy Castillo, operations and licensing manager. Alexandria (Alex) Colindres, Jorge’s daughter, is president of The Registry of Aruba.
But Jorge says it goes beyond family ties. “We have always invested heavily in people, but that investment is not only monetary, it is loyalty from the top down,” says Jorge. “When I see the San Marino Team, the Aruba team, even the [government] ministers and directors, it is just like a big family. And that comes because we demonstrate that we really love them, and we really care for them.”
After starting in aircraft sales, Jorge came up with idea of forming a partnership between his company and the Aruba Ministry of Transport in 1995. He and his team would manage the logistics of the inspections, administration and marketing for The Registry of Aruba. At the time it was ground-breaking, although some registries now also outsource technical inspections. One of the key differentiators would be customer service. It was an area where it could stand out from traditional government-run registries. This is still a key focus for the company.
“One of the first things I tell anybody when they come to work with us is that if you're not willing to work overtime, work on the weekends and just kind of be accessible to the clients, then don't even bother. Because if you don't have that attitude, then you're not really going to fit in with the culture of the office,” says Alex. “That's not to say people are like slaves to the office, that they're working 24/7. There’s a mindset that you have to have when you come work for us in the sense that you're just predisposed to want to help the client and to kind of come up with creative solutions and go above and beyond, have a more personal approach.”
Closing a deal at EBACE.
The clock never stops.
Alex Colindres and father Jorge
Alex Colindres mid-flow at CJI London 2019.
“We spend a lot of hours thinking how we can maintain the quality.”
David joined his father in 2001, originally focused on The Registry of Aruba. Although he was based in its Miami office, he spent much of the time travelling around the world with his father – especially to former USSR countries. “He gave me the opportunity just to sit there. For many years I was just sitting and observing until I was able to start connecting the dots with my own mind,” says David.
The Registry of Aruba was a success from the start and grew quickly. “Before the Global Financial Crisis there were only the three traditional registries – Aruba, Bermuda and Cayman – and it was stable and comfortable. In 2007 the Isle of Man Registry came along and frankly kicked us all in the butt,” says David, “which was great because we all had to get better.”
They also wanted to offer their own alternative to Aruba. For years Jorge and David flew around the world visiting other suitable jurisdictions including San Marino – a city state surrounded by Italy. After a break for several months the San Marino government asked David and Jorge to fly back for a key meeting. Both were excited but the timing – the day after David’s and Lindy’s wedding – was terrible. But both Jorge and David were there.
The San Marino Aircraft Registry formerly launched in January 2013 with David, Lindy and their two sons moving to the country. It has been particularly successful in attracting operators like Luxaviation, ACASS, TAG Aviation, Empire Aviation and others.
Alex held back on joining the family business. She originally focused on art before being encouraged to handle marketing The Registry of Aruba part time. Jorge hoped she would become hooked and join full time. It worked. In 2021, after eight years with the company, she became president.
“When you grow and you excel, keeping the quality is very challenging,” says Jorge. “We spend a lot of hours thinking how we can maintain the quality.”
“As a family, we all inspire each other. My kids inspire me!”
The principal role of any aircraft registry is overseeing safety. “We're first a safety compliance company because without the core regulatory requirement we would not have an aircraft registry that is sufficient,” says Jorge. “You can see this in our track record of being sought out by other countries to help bring them up to international standards.”
Alex says this is key to understanding their business. “No one will want to register their aircraft with us if they don't trust the rules and regulations that we abide by,” she says. “If we don't have those regulations that will make customers and owners and lessors or banks feel safe, then there's no service to offer. Safety is the top priority and we will never put the risk of The Registry or the reputation over one unsafe project.”
“If you want to be able to deliver the best product in the market, you need to consider that your regulatory side has to be better than the competitors – that's your bread and butter,” says Jorge. “If somebody owns a $50m or $100m aircraft, they're not going to come to a country just because you're offering convenience. At the end of the day, they're thinking about resale.”
From left to right: David and his wife Lindy Castillo, operations and licensing manager, San Marino Aircraft Registry. Yolanda Gasalla, Jorge’s wife and Jorge Colindres.
Father of the bride (according to Jorge).
Aviation veteran Jorge has been in the business for more than 30 years.
David highlights the importance of registry when it comes to the selling of aircraft. “If you get problems with the pre-purchase inspection, it all becomes a negotiation. If my inspector missed an Airworthiness Directive, a modification or a Supplemental Type Certificate, it is a big deal and will be deducted from the price,” says David. “We make sure that things like this do not happen. We care deeply about resale values.”
As well as growing the two existing registries, the company is often in talks with other countries. “When people ask me ‘why do you need more than one registry?’ I say it is a very simple business model – you don’t need to go to the London School of Economics to understand it,” says Jorge. “Look at LVMH, they have the best brands and you see them across the road from each other. You walk into Louis Vuitton on Bond Street and do not find what you like, so you walk across the road to another LVMH store. They depend on creative directors and Alex and David are creative directors of their own stores.”
Jorge’s other three children have so far not chosen to follow David and Alex. “I am holding out for David’s kids and Alex’s future children after her wedding next year,” he jokes.
And he has zero regrets about working with his kids. “As a family, we all inspire each other. My kids inspire me. They inspire others in the team. I also pass on inspiration,” says Jorge. “It's a beautiful joy. If I have another life. I will do it all over again. I would choose my two kids as partners with my with my eyes closed.”