Signature unveils plans for European expansion

 - April 21, 2008, 6:17 AM

At the European Business Aviation Conference and Exhibition (EBACE) in late May, Signature Flight Support announced plans for a new $2 million FBO at Southern France’s Toulon-Hyeres Airport (on the Côte d’Azur) and generous $7.5 million expansion of its facility at London Luton Airport. In Toulon, the new facility is part of a joint effort with the city’s chamber of commerce to attract business aviation. The airport recently received approval from French Customs to permit direct flights from the U.S. When it opens next spring, Phase I of the Signature project will involve a temporary terminal that will be equipped with passenger and crew lounges and even showers. The tent-shaped building is expected to be the main terminal for about two years until the second phase begins, when it will become a side building to the main terminal. The final plans call for a 20,000-sq-ft terminal complex similar in size and configuration to Signature’s base at Paris Le Bourget Airport. Louis Demarque, Signature’s general manager at Le Bourget, is overseeing the new facility in Toulon.

The new Signature location is meant to be complementary with other airports that serve the Côte d’Azur, such as Nice. Demarque said he expects to see 200,000 arrivals per year within three years at Toulon. Helicopter service to Monaco is expected to be in place by the time Signature opens, with a maritime shuttle expected soon and train service planned for the future.

At London Luton Airport, the new hangar complex at Signature’s facility will add 70,000 sq ft of aircraft storage space and 13,500 sq ft of office area. The office segment of the new building will be three stories high, directly adjacent to the new hangar. Scheduled to break ground this month, the project should be completed in 12 months. Currently, Signature Luton sees some 13,000 business aircraft movements per year. General manager Trevor King said that between them, Luton and Farnborough airports see 90 percent of inbound London business aircraft traffic, with each having an equal market share of that total.