Lull in Global Express sales trickles down to Marshall Aero

 - May 7, 2008, 11:29 AM

Marshall Aerospace, now finishing its sixth Global Express completion for Bombardier,
is having to find alternative work for its Cambridge, UK facility as sales slow for the ultra-long-range business jet. The company is contracted to complete six more green Globals, but it is now unclear when it will get this work.

To date, just over 80 Global Expresses have been delivered out of 112 on firm order. Marshall has been told that Bombardier intends to keep the remaining completions at its own facilities in Montreal and Tucson, Ariz. In the late 1990s the airframer had appointed Marshall as a completion center to accelerate Global deliveries at a time when orders were booming.

Marshall is now seeking to fill the gap in capacity with refurbishments of leased or resold Global Expresses, including one just returned by a group of Russian businessmen. According to Andrew Pearce, corporate and executive aircraft sales manager, Marshall expects to do about half a dozen of these projects, each of which has a turn-time of around eight weeks.

Meanwhile, the company is getting into the executive charter business with a new subsidiary called Marshall Executive Aircraft. It expects to receive its commercial AOC next month and to begin operations in the spring with a Cessna Citation Bravo from the Marshall corporate fleet. Initially, the jet will be based at Cambridge, and Marshall expects to secure bookings from the burgeoning number of high-tech firms in the so-called “Silicon Fen” area around the city.

Marshall is now seeking to redevelop its airport home under the name Cambridge City Airport. This month it expects to file a planning application to build a new 37,675-sq-ft terminal by spring 2004. Regional and charter facilities will occupy the first floor, with corporate customers having the second floor to themselves. Following the demise of Magnet, Cambridge City Airport Handling (owned by Marshall) is now the sole FBO at the location.

According to David Buckley, Marshall’s director of airport and flight operations, market research has shown that local residents have one of the UK’s highest “propensity to travel” ratings at an average of 6.5 trips per year, compared with the national average of two to three. He is targeting an annual passenger throughput of 300,000 per annum.

However, the airport has drawn fire from local environmental campaigners and the city government has declared a longer-term intent (2014 to 2016) to see housing built on the airport site. Marshall has said that it would be willing to relocate, but only if a suitable alternative airport site can be found, such as the Alconbury air force base.