All the leading forecasts agree that business aviation is an increasingly global phenomenon that will see growth rates for aircraft and flying activity rise faster in the still relatively immature markets of Europe, the Middle East and Asia. This should be excellent news for anyone in the business of running FBOs and the myriad service companies providing handling and flight planning. But in reality FBO growth in Europe appears still to be somewhat modest, and the expansion of support infrastructure in continents farther east and south is only now beginning to gather any momentum.
With some notable and recent exceptions, prospective FBOs appear to take a cautious attitude to expanding their operations in unfamiliar regions. Evidently the costs and the stakes are simply too high to take an “if we build it, they will come” approach to the emerging business aviation markets.
In other instances, the market’s ability to respond to rising demand for specialist ground handling services is artificially impeded by factors such as a lack of available airport real estate and unwillingness on the part of airport management and established major airlines to tolerate any new competition.
"FBO Survey: Covering europe, middle east, Asia and Africa' PDF
For close to a decade, industry observers have been telling AIN to expect a wave of consolidation on the international FBO scene, with larger groups swallowing up smaller, independent operations in the interest of pursuing growth through greater economies of scale and market clout. But in practice there has been relatively little consolidation.
And, with the exception of Permira’s acquisition of the Jet Aviation group in 2005, there is little sign of the long-anticipated wave of private equity fund takeover activity among international FBOs.