ShowNews EBACE editions for full-page profiles of each of the leaders.Each year at EBACE, Aviation Week’s ShowNews names ten leaders that have helped shape business aviation in Europe. This year’s movers and shakers have been selected for their contribution to the growth of the industry against a continually tough economical backdrop. See Aviation Week’s
Dustin Dryden, CEO, Hangar8
Dustin Dryden cofounded Hangar8, based at London-Oxford Airport, in 2002. The company has more than 50 aircraft under management and employs over 300 personnel and has offices in the U.K, Nigeria, Malta, Kazakhstan and South Africa. Its managed fleet covers the spectrum of business jets from ultra long range to entry level.
“My intention is not to have the biggest fleet but to have the most profitable and well-run business. We usually add five to six aircraft per year so I would like to see the fleet grow to 60-70 aircraft over the next couple of years,” says Dryden, who owns 40% of the publicly traded company.
Gerrit Basson, Managing Director, ExecuJet Europe
Gerrit Basson, who holds the role of chief operating officer for the ExecuJet group, took on the role of managing director for the European operation in February 2013. ExecuJet’s European managed fleet, made up of mostly widebody long-range aircraft, stands at 50 and is growing. The majority of the fleet is under full management. ExecuJet’s charter business has seen double-digit growth in FBO movements and charter hours flown over the last few years.
“The focus this year is on consolidating and solidifying our position in the market, globally as well as Europe, to further establish ourselves in the market. There won’t be a lot of geographical expansion this year unless fantastic opportunities arise,” says Basson.
Joe Buckley, Business Development Manager, Shannon Airport
Shannon Airport in Ireland offers U.S. Customs and Immigration pre-clearance for passengers and crew flying to any of the 220 U.S. airports signed up to the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) program. On arrival, passengers are treated as domestic arrivals. Shannon is the only airport in the world to offer this service and the process of securing this special facility has been a long one, says Buckley. The airport first gained pre-clearance for business jets in 2010 but it had plenty of teething problems. “The most significant problem was the requirement from U.S. CBP that the aircraft APUs be shut down as it was thought they could interfere with their [security] equipment, but this was proven not to be the case,” explained Buckley. “The NBAA Security and Safety Council did great work with CBP and Homeland Security, and even the security equipment manufacturers were involved to prove that it wouldn’t be a problem.”
“The other difficulty was that initially the authorities wouldn’t clear FAR Part 135 charter aircraft, and procedures were a bit cumbersome in the way that they would pre-clear an aircraft. After lobbying for a couple of months we got the acknowledgement that all business jets would be included in the pre-clearance program. So that was a major step forward.”
Kadri Muhiddin, CEO, AMAC Aerospace
Basel-based AMAC Aerospace is best known for its completions and maintenance on airliner and jumbo-size corporate jets. The company started operations in 2009 and now employs 650 people across three hangars in Basel and a fourth in Istanbul, Turkey.
Kadri Muhiddin has been in the industry for 40 years with 22 years spent in VIP completions. “People knew about me, and although AMAC was new they knew they were going to get a good product.” The first aircraft completed by AMAC was anfor a Middle Eastern ruler. “It had to sit for eight months on the tarmac waiting for the first hangar to be finished as this client wanted to be our launch customer,” Muhiddin told Aviation Week.
AMAC’s facility is fully booked into 2015. Further contracts awaiting finalization will take the backlog into 2017, according to Muhiddin.
Mark Wilson, President & CEO, NetJets Europe
NetJets has 130 aircraft in its European fleet and it currently has around 1,300 members split between fractional owners and card member products. 80% of flight hours are flown by fractional members. While membership is not growing significantly, “some ex-aircraft owners are coming into fractional over the last year and we see that trend continuing,” notes Wilson.
Wilson, previously NetJets Europe COO, became president and CEO of the company in January 2013. He is based at the company’s headquarters in Portugal.
NetJets has twoGlobal 6000s in service with two more due this year as the company gradually grows this fleet. “These aircraft are aimed totally at our fractional market. One of the beauties of the fractional model is that customers can buy whatever fraction is appropriate – some people have taken a larger holding than average on these aircraft as they’ve recognized that the aircraft is truly global in nature and they intend to fly in them quite a lot.” Wilson explains that each aircraft is expected to fly around 800 hours per year with owners typically averaging around 100 hours per year, which adds up to a one-eighth share in each aircraft. “800 hours is what we attempt to put on per tail per year,” adds Wilson.
Marwen Khalek, CEO, Gama Group
Gama Group started operations in 1983 with a Beech Baron and has since become a major player in business aviation services with 80 aircraft now in its fleet. The company has 400 employees working at its 25 operating bases.
Marwen Khalek was one of the group’s founders and still has plenty of ambition for the company. “Our strategy is that we’re in this business for the long haul. The market remains very fragmented, whether it’s Europe or elsewhere, so it makes sense to invest. The expansion is targeted and is in response to what our customers want,” Khalek tells Aviation Week. “Our Glasgow International Airport hangar, for example, is in direct response to the needs of our clients the NHS [National Health Service] Scotland and the Scottish Ambulance Service.” The 1,600 sq. meter hangar will house the Scottish Air Ambulance’s King Air aircraft and will help grow the company’s base and line maintenance capabilities.
Patrick Margetson-Rushmore, Chief Executive, London Executive Aviation
London Executive Aviation (LEA) was founded in 1996 with a single piston-engine aircraft. Today it has 26 aircraft in its fleet and it is one of the largest executive air charter operators in Europe. LEA’s Legacy fleet has grown mainly through inter-owner recommendation. “We’re certainly the largest Legacy operator in Europe and I guess we’re becoming the first port of call for people who have an aircraft they want looking after,” said Margetson-Rushmore.
The company also handles acceptance and delivery flights forproducts, including the Phenom 100, Phenom 300 and Legacys, some of which are now managed by LEA.
“As we grow and expand we are interested in looking after large widebody aircraft. On the continent there are a number of companies concentrating on this area, but our philosophy is still to maintain a spread of aircraft types from small upward. We’re certainly not moving away from small fleet types,” said Margetson-Rushmore.
Steve Jones, Managing Director, Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group’s Aviation Services
Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group is one of the longest established aerospace companies in Europe with a 104-year history. It acquired FlairJet, the Oxford airport-based aircraft management and charter company in March 2013 and FlairJet has now integrated its operations with Marshall Executive Aviation. “Our financial projections already show a dramatic improvement in the financial performance of Marshall Executive Aviation from last year and we would anticipate an improvement of at least £0.5 million by the end of this financial year. We’re not ruling out further acquisitions if that fast-tracks us into fleet growth, and this could happen this year,” says Jones, who is also the managing director of Cambridge airport and heads up all non-military aviation for the Marshall Group.
“In the last year it’s all been about accumulating a strong team and so far it has been more about building expertise than building things,” said Jones. “The sales and acquisitions arm of the business is going extremely well. We have a portfolio now of nine contracted sales aircraft with a value well in excess of £20 million that we are trading at the moment.”
Jones was also tasked with forming JETability, a full service business aviation division, which operates out of Cambridge airport. JETability is already seeing a significant amount of aircraft sales brokerage business coming from banks, according to Jones. “There are a lot of business aircraft repossessions going on. We’re getting quite a few aircraft and helicopter repossessions for resale and we’re almost becoming the broker of choice for this market.”
Thierry Boutsen, President, Boutsen Aviation
Ex-Formula 1 race driver Thierry Boutsen formed Boutsen Aviation in 1997 as a part-time venture then took it full time in 2000. Based in Monaco, Boutsen has sold 261 aircraft to date and turned over $1.2 billion in sales. His first sale was a $275,000 Piper Cheyenne II and the 250th was a VVIP Airbus Corporate Jet worth $100 million.
Bouten says he has had a number of repeat customers since 2000. “We have experience in 50 different countries so we know exactly how to register an airplane on almost every continent. We handle the technical, administrative and legal side of the transaction.”
Thomas Flohr, Chairman, VistaJet
For years, Swiss-based VistaJet has claimed to be the world’s fastest-growing private aviation company with the largest wholly owned commercial fleet outside the Americas. Eschewing the fractional model, Thomas Flohr founded VistaJet in 2004. “We tore up all the old conventions and designed a revolutionary business model focused entirely around our clients. What they wanted. What they needed. Then we invested in the largest privately owned fleet of aircraft outside the Americas. We’ve never looked back,” says Flohr.
The company has consistently seen revenue growth of 20-25% a year. Last year it carried 25,000 passengers on 10,000 single international flights. “The simple business model ensures the entire fleet is made available to all customers – with guaranteed availability within 24 hours notice – offering a truly global reach with no positioning costs,” says Flohr.
Flohr’s strategy of using long-range aircraft to directly link new trade routes across the globe has paid off, driving new business and resulting in the company last November placing the largest-ever order with Bombardier for $7.8 billion-worth of Global jets, comprising 56 firm and 86 optioned aircraft.