AMAC to enter completions market

 - May 17, 2008, 11:59 PM

AMAC Aerospace (Booth No. 651), the new Swiss completions, maintenance and refurbishing firm, is here at EBACE announcing it is on target to begin full operations when its first hangar–at EuroAirport Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg–is completed in September. A spokesman indicated the company plans eventually to include aircraft management, charter and brokerage in its portfolio.

The new business aviation service company, founded in July 2007, is the brainchild of Heinz Köhli, former CEO and 30-year veteran of Jet Aviation. AMAC currently has a staff of a dozen aerospace specialists, which it expects to increase to around 70 when the facility is up and running.

In October 2007, AMAC signed a 35-year lease on a 452,000-sq-ft site at Basel, not far from the rival Jet Aviation complex. It plans to build three large hangars there. When all of these buildings are completed in 2009, they will be able to accommodate aircraft of up to the size of the Airbus A380 airliner, the spokesman said.

The start-up company is financed for up to 25 percent of its initial needs by the share capital provided by its founding partners, plus a credit line covering the remaining 75 percent from a group of Swiss banks. Köhli claimed that AMAC will start earning money quickly, as it already has prospects for a number of aircraft completions and refurbishments. Its first firm order is for an A320.

Founding members of the AMAC Aerospace board, in addition to Köhli, include chairman Kadri Muhiddin, a British citizen with extensive aerospace experience; chief operating officer Bernd Schramm and chief financial officer Mauro Grossi. Former Jet Aviation executive Christof Aregger has been appointed head of the aircraft management and charter division.

Commenting on the chosen headquarters location at Basel (where Jet Aviation was founded in 1967), Köhli noted that the firm can tap skilled manpower from Switzerland as well as neighboring France and Germany to ensure smooth growth of the new company.

Reflecting on his reasons for leaving Jet Aviation less than two years after the family-owned group’s takeover by the Permira private equity fund, Köhli commented that business aviation is a venue where trust and confidence are paramount. “Such relations take many years to build up and consolidate, while the outlook of financial investors seems to be limited to only a few years,” he said. He also said the highly skilled staff needed for such specialist services require recognition and job satisfaction that cannot be sacrificed to short-term profit.

Business aircraft completion work is currently a sellers’ market plagued by a worldwide capacity shortage, largely due to the extraordinary pace of new aircraft sales in recent years, he said. He added that he expects the especially buoyant Middle Eastern market to provide a substantial part of the new company’s completion orders.