In late April a relatively small French FBO operator swallowed one of the larger European FBO chains. More European consolidation? Definitely.

Sky Valet, with FBOs at Paris-Le Bourget, Cannes-Mandelieu and St Tropez  acquired 100% of the Gestair FBO chain and gained another eight FBOs across Spain at Madrid, Barcelona, Palma de Mallorca, Ibiza, Girona, Valencia, La Coruna and Santiago de Compostela airports.

The man behind this move is Dominique Thillaud, CEO of Aéroports de la Côte d’Azur Group, who says that while his plan is to have a chain of 20-25 FBOs across Europe in five years’ time, “For us it’s not a matter of  (having FBOs in) different countries, it’s more a matter of focusing on premier locations to follow our clients and where there is more traffic. We are going to grow by acquisition and organically. We have some more ideas in mind and we are at preliminary stage in negotiations with some people. We want to increase our existing platform and increase our quality of service.”

Excellence is his byword and to prove it Sky Valet’s Cannes-Mandelieu operation has just become the first FBO in Europe to gain IS-BAH (International Standard-Business Aviation Handling) certification and only the third in the world. To get his staff to these heady heights Thillaud sends them on training exercises at the very best hotels in Cannes and Monaco. “We are all aiming for the same degree of quality. Never forget this: it’s not only the clients and the passengers, but also the crews that need looking after properly.”