Best takes the helm of Signature’s Euro office

 - March 16, 2007, 12:23 PM

Signature Flight Support has signaled serious intent to expand its FBO chain outside North America by adding a managing director for Europe. The Orlando, Fla.-based group has hired David Best to fill the new role and has tasked him with expanding its network of business aircraft handling operations throughout Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

Best comes to Signature from the UK’s Menzies Aviation Group, where he was business development manager and commercial director of its Execair FBOs. Execair already has facilities throughout the UK and Europe, and has expanded rapidly over the last few years with several acquisitions under its belt. Best will also sit on the board of Signature’s existing joint venture in Hong Kong.

Signature Flight Support’s European portfolio currently consists of FBOs at London Luton Airport, Paris Le Bourget Airport and Southampton Airport on the south coast of England. Last year Signature completed a major expansion of its Luton facility with the addition of a new hangar and office complex, as well as adjoining ramp space.

In September, Signature’s parent, BBA Aviation, closed the Signature Aircraft Engineering maintenance operation at Southampton. Earlier last year BBA sold the Signature Aircraft Engineering facility at Luton to Gulfstream Aerospace, which has used the base as its first factory-owned service center in Europe.

One of Best’s first tasks will be to push through the delayed development of a new FBO at Toulon on the south coast of France. Since announcing plans for the project in May 2002, Signature has hit legal and political problems in getting final approval from local officials. The FBO chain intends to offer Toulon as an alternative business aviation gateway to the Cote d’Azur, drawing traffic away from Marseille, Cannes and Nice.

Signature will be looking to match the FBO expansion plans of groups such as TAG Aviation, Execair, Jet Aviation, PrivatAir and Swissport Executive.