Signature Flight Support expands into Greece

 - October 3, 2007, 10:03 AM

Signature Flight Support has agreed to buy a controlling stake in Greek FBO group Athens Aviation Services (see page 125) for $1.8 million (£1 million). Signature parent BBA Aviation announced the deal, which is subject to regulatory approval, on September 2.

Athens Aviation Services runs a full-service executive handling and flight planning operation at Athens International Airport. It provides handling and support through a network of agents at approximately  22 other Greek airports. The company was founded in 1973 by private owners and is also active in airline handling.

The news is another indication of BBA’s serious intent to expand the Signature Flight Support FBO brand. In August, it announced the $21 million (£11.8 million) acquisition of the John Menzies group’s Execair chain of 10 FBOs in the UK, Ireland and Belgium. The latest BBA statement says that the company is now “working on a number of other opportunities to further broaden its network of bases in both the U.S. and Europe.”

BBA has also reported improved financial performance for the first half of this year, with group-wide profits-before-tax for the first half  up by 7 percent, to $116 million (£65.7 million). In fact, the profits would have been about $7.10 million (£4 million) higher (representing a nearly 14-percent increase) had it not been for the significant weakening of the U.S. dollar since the first half of last year.

Revenues at BBA’s aviation division (which includes Signature Flight Support) were virtually unchanged at $693 million (£391.4 million) for the first half of this year, but, taking exchange-rate fluctuations into account, they effectively grew by 8 percent (representing 6-percent organic growth in this side of the business). Underlying operating profits (using comparable exchange rates for the first half of last year and this year) increased by 11 percent to $70 million (£39.6 million), with operating margins improving from 9.9 percent to 10.1 percent.

Fuel volumes sold through Signature Flight Support bases were up 12 percent on those in the first half of last year. Fractional ownership customers bought 28 percent more fuel and Signature fuel sales in Europe grew by 40 percent–due largely to a recovery in transatlantic business aviation traffic.