Two of Europe’s leading business aviation charter and aircraft management companies, privately-owned Gama Aviation and publicly-traded Hangar8, announced in January they would merge to form one of the five largest business jet operators in the world, with Marwan Khalek as its CEO. The new company, Gama Aviation Plc, has now set its sights worldwide.

“Through this merger we will be creating a true global leader and one that is uniquely positioned for accelerated future growth,” says Khalek. “The two businesses enjoy a complementary geographical coverage. They have a good operational fit and have been pursuing similar growth strategies built on a profitable and robust business model.

“Bringing them together into Gama Aviation Plc will create a business of significant scale and one with unparalleled breadth of geographical coverage and depth of capability and service.”  Whereas Gama is strong in the UK, U.S. and the Middle East, Hangar8 is strongest in Africa and Europe.

At the time of its public listing on the London Stock Exchange AIM market the total combined managed fleet of the two companies was 144 aircraft worldwide. That has since grown to around 150 and more could be announced here at EBACE. The integration of the two companies is going well according to Duncan Daines, Gama’s chief marketing officer, and is on track to complete integration by the end of June  “We’ve reviewed the organizational structure and  made changes based on two goals. The company has become more client centric and can now accommodate any further changes and make them scaleable in anticipation of predicted growth,” he says.

In February Khalek announced and signed a major joint venture agreement with Hutchison Whampoa (China) Limited in its quest to expand its management, charter, MRO and FBO expertise to the Peoples Republic of China, Hong Kong and the wider Asia region. The new company, Gama Aviation Hutchison Holdings Limited (Gama Hutchison), will be a 50:50 partnership. Regional subsidiaries will be established under the management of Gama Hutchison to operate the full range of business aviation and ground services. Operations are set to begin in the second quarter with two additional managed aircraft being based in Hong Kong.

“We see Asia as a large business aviation market and one with huge potential for us. We now have the opportunity to not only serve the PRC, Hong Kong and the wider Asian market, but also link up to our strong regional businesses in Africa, the Middle East and Europe, all of which are major asset destinations for Chinese businesses and individuals,” says Khalek.

Gama was founded in the UK in 1983 as a global business aviation services organization by Khalek and Stephen Wright. Headquartered in Farnborough, UK, it grew under Khalek’s leadership into a 600-employee company with regional HQs in Stratford, Connecticut, Sharjah in the Middle East, and Hong Kong.