Le Bourget FBO sale win-win for the FlyingGroup, JetEx

 - March 27, 2009, 9:55 AM

Dubai-based JetEx Flight Support has made its first move into FBO management by buying the FlyingGroup facility at Paris Le Bourget Airport. The FlyingGroup, based in Belgium, sold the FBO so that it can focus on its aircraft charter and management activities. Details of the sale were not disclosed.

According to JetEx CEO Adel Mardini, the Paris acquisition is part of a long-term strategy to establish an international network of FBOs. The company has plans to begin a comprehensive redevelopment of the Le Bourget premises to provide additional lounges and aircraft parking areas large enough to receive the Airbus A380. Its aim is to cater to the top end of business aviation, including head-of-state flights.

Mardini told AIN that JetEx has chosen to start its FBO network at a major business aviation gateway like Le Bourget, where there are already several established FBOs, to quickly raise the company’s profile in the sector and to demonstrate its resolve to set a high standard for service and facilities even in the face of stiff competition. For its part, FlyingGroup wants to concentrate on its basic activity–charter and management– and continue fleet expansion. “The financial crisis is only part of the reason for the sale, which fits into our ambition to concentrate on our core activity of private and business aviation,” said a spokesman for the operator.

“Like many companies in aviation, Flying- Group is having to face the [economic] crisis,” said the spokesman. “Only the diehard companies will survive, and we will be among them. We want to concentrate on our core activities, and the opportunity arose to sell something that was never a core business for us–and expensive to rent. The sale generates new cash that strengthens our investment in expanding our fleet.” He confirmed that seven more aircraft are expected to join the current 21-strong fleet this year. FlyingGroup recently became an authorized Cessna Citation service center and is establishing a branch in Luxembourg this month, where it will base two airplanes.

Until February 1, FlyingGroup occupied half of one of Le Bourget’s main business aviation facilities, located at the airport entrance, but JetEx will now occupy the whole building. JetEx had owned half of the space but never occupied it because it deemed the site too small. FlyingGroup will stay close to Le Bourget with offices at nearby Charles de Gaulle Airport and will return to the dedicated Paris business gateway on completion of a hangar and offices originally due for completion in time for the June 2007 Paris Air Show.

The spokesman reported that prolonged political and legal problems regarding tarmac and other rights delayed construction of the former Euralair site but said that things are now moving along, with completion expected this summer. FlyingGroup will continue to manage its Dassault Falcon 50 at Le Bourget and its Paris-bound customers would probably use the JetEx terminal.

According to the spokesman, FlyingGroup had done well in the two-and-a-half years since it began operating at the Le Bourget site, but partnerships with Million Air and Harrod’s Aviation did not work out, and operating at the French airport–with some half dozen competitors–has proved expensive.

JetEx FBO manager Richard Webb, until recently with FlyingGroup, told AIN that JetEx’s purchase is its first step toward FBO expansion in the private business aviation market and plans to remodel and expand the facility are under way.

JetEx, which has previously focused on flight planning and operational support, is looking to recruit a new general manager and a business development manager for the Paris operation. Applicants, who must have the right to live and work in the European Union, should send a résumé and cover letter to career@jetex.aero.