Bradley E. Smith is a managing director and founding member of Kahala Aviation. He was also a founding member of Kahala’s predecessor company, First Greenwich Kahala, and has been involved in the aircraft leasing sector since 2003. Prior to this, Brad worked for 20 years on Wall Street, primarily with two firms: Bankers Trust and Bear Stearns. At Bear Stearns, he was a Senior Managing Director in the Tokyo office having previously joined the firm in New York in 1995. Before Bear Stearns he worked 10 years at Bankers Trust – first in the airlines and aerospace group, and later in BT’s loan syndications group where he was responsible for some of the largest airline financings ever completed, including the recapitalization of Allegis Corp/United Airlines and the buy-out of Northwest Airlines. In addition to long standing ties with Wall Street and Asian financial institutions, Brad has relationships with many Asian and US airlines. Brad is also on the Board of Directors of NASDAQ listed Tiptree Financial, Inc. and Tricadia Credit Strategies, Ltd.
Mike Garland is a managing partner and founding member of Kahala Aviation Group. He was a founding member of Kahala’s predecessor company, First Greenwich Kahala, and has been working in the aircraft leasing sector since the early 1980s. In 1990 Mike joined Electra Aviation Ltd as a director responsible for restructuring the then troubled company and exiting a 65 aircraft portfolio. Before Electra he worked at several established aviation banks. In 1995, Mike established Garland Aviation which provided aircraft lease consultancy to aircraft lessors and airlines including some of the most prominent names in the industry such as Aviation Capital Group, Mitsui Corporation, Air Europa and Excel Airways. Mike is considered one of the leading aircraft leasing specialists in Europe with extensive relationships with airlines and other industry participants in the region. He also has substantial repossession experience as well, having repossessed aircraft out of numerous difficult jurisdictions such as Mexico, Ukraine and Serbia (during the Yugoslav War).
Photo: Marcin Szpak
Mark Thatcher is chief technical officer, managing director and founding member of Kahala Aviation Group. He also worked with Messrs Garland and Smith in First Greenwich Kahala since 2004. Prior to FGK, he established Trinity Aero Limited, a successful aviation technical and consultancy business. Before Trinity, Mark was employed for eleven years at Air 2000 – then one of the largest UK airlines, where he oversaw a mixed fleet of over 30 Boeing and Airbus aircraft. In his final position at Air 2000 he was a director with responsibility for all the airline’s maintenance, purchasing and leasing activities. Mark began his career at the age of 16 in British Airways’ world renowned engineering apprenticeship program. Subsequently, he was employed at British Aerospace, where he supported that company’s activities in Thailand and China. Mark has a unique blend of a mechanic’s intimate knowledge of aircraft and engines coupled with the asset trading savvy of a senior airline executive with substantial experience of trading and leasing equipment.
Michael Howard is Chief Financial Officer and founding member of Kahala Aviation Group. Michael has over 15 years of top level CFO experience in a variety of organizations. From 2007 to 2009, Michael was Chief Financial Officer of AWAS, one of the world’s largest operating lessors of commercial aircraft. While there, Michael was instrumental in originating and structuring over $1 billion of debt financing for aircraft acquisitions. From 2005 to 2007, he was the Chief Financial Officer of Statoil Ireland Ltd., one of Ireland's largest fuel company and forecourt retailer. Prior to Statoil, Michael was with Irish Distillers Group, a subsidiary of Groupe Pernod Ricard, where he was CFO from 2000 to 2005 and Finance & Treasury Manager from 1997 to 2000. He began his career with KPMG serving as manager in the Dublin and Milan offices. Michael is a Chartered Accountant with the Irish Institute.
Charles Graham joined the Board of Directors of Kahala Aviation Group in 2013, bringing over 30 years of Board and CEO experience in airlines, aircraft leasing and international logistics. He began his career in transportation in 1981 as Global CFO at the transport group TNT, leading the acquisition of European road transport company IPEC and worldwide aircourier company Skypak to form TNT Express Worldwide, one of the world’s leading international integrators. In 1995, TNT was acquired by the Dutch Post Office and Charles became CEO of Global Mail.
In 1997 Charles entered the world of aircraft leasing as CEO of Ansett Worldwide Aviation Services (AWAS), an aircraft leasing business owned by TNT and News Corporation. Growing AWAS substantially over the next three years, Charles led the sale of the company to Morgan Stanley in 2000. Invited to join Morgan Stanley as a Managing Director, Charles went on to integrate AWAS with Morgan Stanley’s Aircraft Finance business to form one of the world’s largest aircraft lessors. AWAS continued to be an innovator in the industry, being the first lessor to do business in China and Africa, and pioneering freighter conversions.
In 2006, Charles again led the sale of AWAS to private equity investors. In 2007, Charles joined DHL as CEO Global Aviation and a Member of the DHL Board. Under his leadership, a new global aviation strategy emerged, integrating the management of DHL’s fourteen regional airlines with two new intercontinental partnerships to form one virtual global airline – the second largest cargo airline in the world. Now Charles works with a number of clients on large scale investment projects in the aviation and logistics sectors.
Derek Russo joined Kahala Avaition in 2016 as a Vice President. Prior to Kahala, Derek was an associate at Business Development Corporation of America where he launched their aircraft leasing strategy and also worked as a credit underwriter on private debt transactions for US middle market companies. Before BDCA, Derek worked at UBS Investment Bank as a credit analyst on the high yield trading desk performing analysis on the gaming, lodging, and leisure sectors for the high yield bond, leveraged loan, and CDS markets. He holds a BS in Aerospace/Mechanical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute where he completed internships at GE Aviation in Lynn, MA and at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where he worked on the design of the Mars rover Curiosity.
Harry brings over 40 years of aviation experience to Kahala Aviation, having worked for aviation OEMs and aircraft lessors since 1973. He joins Kahala Aviation from Singapore-based Asia Aviation Capital (AAC), the AirAsia-owned aircraft lessor, where, from November 2016 thru November 2018, he held the post of Deputy CEO and Chief Commercial Officer. He joined AAC as one of the founding members of the senior executive team and established a core team of marketing professionals in Singapore and Ireland. He was instrumental in the sale of the company’s 70+ aircraft and 14 engine portfolio to BBAM in 2018. Prior to AAC, from December 2010 to end 2015, Harry was EVP Marketing for Macquarie AirFinance (MAF), based in San Francisco, with responsibility for MAF’s airline relationships. He managed a team of six professionals based in MAF’s offices in the USA, Dublin and Singapore. He held other marketing roles with MAF from March 2007 thru November 2010, based in Australia and Singapore. From 1989 thru 2006, Harry was with AWAS, initially in Asian sales roles in Hongkong until 1999, then Sydney until mid-2005 and finally Seattle until September 2006 when he was VP Marketing, responsible for the company’s global marketing activities.