Mark Johnstone became CEO of Signature Flight Support on April 1. Johnstone, who joined BBA Aviation in 2008, also serves as CEO there. BBA Aviation is Signature’s parent company.

In your new role at Signature, where do you plan to lead the company?

Firstly safety – that comes above everything and everyone. Secondly, service. We are a service business seeking to provide and exceed the needs of our customers on a day-to-day basis. Those two things are standard, and we need to carry on.

After that?

Aside from that, continuing to grow the business is really important. At the end of 2015, early 2016, we acquired Landmark Aviation… We are far and away the biggest network. From a customer perspective, if they’re flying to the top 200 locations in North America, they will find Signature in seven out of 10 of them. That is really important. They have a choice to come to Signature if they come to those cities.

What are other ways you would you like Signature to grow?

We need to get closer to our customers. There is a slow but definite shift in aircraft ownership in the industry away from the classic Part 91 and into Part 135. People are more willing now than ever to use charter… We need to make sure we’re relevant to those coming into the industry.

You are expanding services at Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta International Airport. What is happening?

The airport has agreed to give us a 20-year lease in return for which we’ll invest some considerable amount of money over the next three years, building a new FBO and hangars and… facilities for business and general aviation. One of the reasons we can do that is because we are part of BBA Aviation. BBA has a strong balance sheet, which allows us to reinvest.

You are also expanding a service in Atlanta called Signature Elite with plans to expand that to other cities. What is the service?

Signature Elite (gives) the ability to provide almost a private jet experience but to commercial airline passengers, so premium passengers willing to pay will be able to check into our FBO, our private jet facility, and we will transit them directly to their commercial aircraft, whether it be Delta or anyone else operating. That is a growth opportunity for us. We are expecting to take that into other cities in the U.S. We have been doing it in London for the last 10 years.

Statistics show an increase in business aviation flight hours. What has that meant for you?

For the first time, we are now seeing more traffic than we did before the last crash of 2008. It’s been a slow recovery. We do operate in a cyclical industry. The industry usually tracks GDP. That’s what we see as a driver... People can see the FAA data. It’s pretty subdued in the market today. (Activity in) June, July and August was more or less flat year-over-year... It’s a growing industry. It goes up and down a little bit, but structurally, it’s still growing.

Signature operates the largest network of FBOs. How do you gain more customers and more market share?

Touching back to the financial strength of Signature and BBA Aviation, we don’t borrow that much money compared to our competitors. We’re a long-term player in the industry. We’re not a private equity company that tends to buy and sell entities in the FBO space. I think that’s important. We also invest heavily in the business, in our facilities, in our training and in our IT.

In 2016, you acquired Landmark Aviation, and in July, you closed the deal to buy Epic Aviation. Are you looking at additional acquisitions or are you done for a while?

We’re never done. When our customers visit cities, we’re in seven out of 10 of the cities. Ideally, we’d love to be 10 out of 10, but that’s not practical. There’s clearly not another large acquisition in the same way that when we acquired Landmark. Atlantic is our next big competitor. They have about 70 FBOs in North America. We overlap on 23 of those locations.

Are you interested in Atlantic Aviation?

Our guess is it’s highly unlikely we could put those two chains together even if we wanted to, which we’re not sure we do. We do however, have a list of 20 to 30 FBOs around the world, predominantly in North America, the Caribbean, South America, Europe and some emerging markets, where we’d very much like to be where we’re not today where our customers fly to. We’ll continue to pursue those, what we call bolt-on transactions, rather than transformational transactions as was the case with Landmark.