Start-up AMAC opens hangar, begins completions servicen

 - February 27, 2009, 9:35 AM

AMAC Aerospace inaugurated the main hangar of its new business aviation completions and maintenance operation at Switzerland’s EuroAirport Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg on February 6. The company is now building a second hangar as part of a ramp-up process that could see it more than double total employment from the current figure of 140 to 300 people.

In addition to the first 45,000-sq-ft hangar, the complex, which was completed on schedule in just over five months, includes 19,375 sq ft of workshops and offices, and has an adjoining 215,000-sq-ft ramp. This covered space is already occupied by an Airbus A320 undergoing executive completion for a Middle Eastern client, as well as a Boeing 737 and Gulfstream V in for maintenance. According to AMAC chief executive Heinz Köhli, two more green bizliner-class aircraft are scheduled to be completed for Middle Eastern customers.

The second 90,000-sq-ft hangar will feature additional workshops and offices and will be able to accommodate, simultaneously, a Boeing 747 and an Airbus A380. Construction work on this building was due to begin this month as part of a second phase of investment that could total almost $21 million. The first phase of AMAC’s development has cost approximately $45 million.

Early last November, AMAC obtained Part 145 maintenance organization approval from the European Aviation Safety Agency. FAA approval is expected in the next
two years. According to Köhli, the FAA approval was considered secondary in the initial stage of AMAC’s start-up since the company plans to serve primarily the Middle Eastern and European markets.

Business aviation sees the Middle Eastern market as especially attractive in current business conditions because large-aircraft owners in that part of the world often have some connection to government and therefore do not have to rely on the mainstream banking system for credit.

According to Köhli, AMAC’s business plan has equipped it well to survive the recession. “Thanks to our lean structures and manageable size, we are more flexible than many other companies and can adapt quickly to new situations,” he told guests at the opening ceremony. “We aim to make well directed use of this agility as we build up business operations.”

In addition to completion and maintenance, AMAC offers aircraft management and executive charter and hopes to expand activities in that field significantly in the near future. The company was formed in mid-2007 by Köhli (formerly CEO of Jet Aviation) along with risk-sharing partners Kadri Muhiddin, Bernd Schramm and Mauro Grossi.