With its new terminal complete, Le Bourget plans next project

 - September 23, 2008, 5:49 AM

Dassault Aviation and Unijet, two companies that have a long history at Paris Le Bourget, have been selected to operate from the new terminal at the dedicated business airport. More activity is planned on the airport, as Dubai-based JetEx Flight Support will operate a VIP FBO at the main terminal at the site’s entrance. It is the first Middle East aviation company to establish permanent operations in Europe.

The new terminal, the latest element in the airport’s 20-year renewal and expansion plan, is a former maintenance facility that has been completely renovated and refurbished to the tune of $8.5 million. Le Bourget charter operator Unijet and Dassault Aviation will share the terminal, known as K1, equally, with each company occupying 44,789 sq ft of hangar space and 5,565 sq ft of adjoining office accommodation. Another 26,910 sq ft of office space will be available for third parties next year.

The 100,107-sq-ft hangar was built in 1960 to accommodate and maintain Air France aircraft. Later it served as a maintenance facility for UTA and Air France Industries. Le Bourget airport managing director Michel De Ronne told AIN, “We decided for environmental, architectural and cost reasons to keep the present facility and redesign the interior rather than demolish and rebuild at six times the price.”

Unijet CEO Dannys Famin told AIN that the operator, based at Le Bourget for 40 years, will build a new client reception terminal and FBO at the corner of its section of the building but will keep its current site opposite K1 until the new hangar is completed, probably in the fourth quarter of next year. Unijet operates a Cessna Citation CJ2, two Cessna CJ3s, a Hawker 800XP, a Global Express, a Pilatus PC-12, two Falcon 900EXs and two Falcon 50s. A third CJ3 will enter the fleet this month and a Falcon 2000LX Easy will replace one of the Falcon 50s in February. The company is scheduled to take delivery of its first Falcon 7X in March, a second Pilatus PC-12 the following September and two Embraer Phenom 100s in April and June 2010.

Meanwhile, Dassault Aviation, which has been at Le Bourget since 1967 through its Dassault Falcon Service subsidiary (operating an FBO, executive flights and a service center), will refurbish its new facility as a Falcon sales showroom and demonstration center capable of accommodating four Falcon 7Xs or six Falcon 900s. A Dassault spokesman declined to provide a date for when the facility would open, adding “there is no hurry.”

Long-term Expansion Plans
The July inauguration of the new terminal follows the December 2006 opening of the Terminal d’Aviation d’Affaires. Half of this FBO terminal near the airport entrance houses Belgium’s Flying Group, which operates an FBO in a joint venture with Million Air, the U.S.-based company’s first operation in Europe. JetEx’s FBO is expected to open there next month, with full ground handling services, a large VIP lounge, in-flight catering and ground transportation as the first stage of the Dubai-based company’s international expansion plan.

De Ronne said the terminal is part of the long-term modernization and expansion plan of the airport’s owner, Paris-area airports authority Aéroports de Paris (AdP), to respond to the growing needs of business aviation at Le Bourget. The airport logged 66,800 movements last year, up from 52,000 in 2003 after several years of decline from the 67,000 movements recorded in 1991. Traffic between 2003 and 2007 increased by 27.4 percent, including a 9.4-percent jump last year. Growth will “continue in the next few years,” but is expected to settle at between 3.5 and 4 percent per annum.

Le Bourget is approaching the end of the first of four phases in a 20-year development plan that ends in 2023 and in which AdP will invest on average $12.32 million annually over the next 15 years. According to De Ronne, space and buildings are available for more terminals and other facilities.

De Ronne is cautious about the influence of very light jets on business aviation in Europe and on operations at Le Bourget in particular. “We do not know yet the impact they will have on traffic. Although the smaller business airport at Pontoise, in northwest Paris, may be better adapted to receive them, this does not mean we will not be seeing VLJs at Le Bourget,” he said.