Flying Group, the Antwerp-based aircraft charter, fractional ownership, management and handling company, views France as the main outlet for its growth strategy. It is putting this theory into practice by establishing substantial new bases at both Paris Le Bourget Airport and Cannes-Mandelieu.
The fast-growing Belgian operator last year added five jets to its fleet, bringing the current total to 13, with another seven scheduled for delivery by 2008. The existing fleet flew 5,750 hours last year, a 24-percent increase over the 4,360 hours logged in 2004.
The company has made a high-profile entry at Le Bourget as the first tenant of a brand-new executive terminal located close to the main airport entrance. The building is designed to accommodate one other aircraft operator/FBO, as well as several other business aviation firms.
Flying Group is already negotiating a two-year extension to its 10-year lease to occupy half the site set aside for aircraft operators. Marketing manager Ben Paindavin told EBACE Convention News that the company will move into the new premises–an existing structure substantially rebuilt at a cost of almost $5 million–on May 24.
The company, which today employs 80 people, including 45 pilots, was founded in 1991 as Flying Partners by former Coca-Cola distributor Bernard Van Milders, who is its 100-percent owner and president. He created the fractional ownership program and charter service with only a Cessna 425 Conquest twin turboprop and a Citation S/II. The Flying Group consists of fractional ownership operation Flying Partners and Flying Service, which handles charter (operations and brokering), management and support, specializing in Cessna Citation and Dassault Falcon business jets.
For the time-being, Flying Group plans to make the new terminal its headquarters at Le Bourget. Meanwhile, it also has obtained a 25-year lease from airport authority Aeroports de Paris (ADP) on the 344,000-sq-ft site that previously housed the Euralair Airport Services FBO. As part of a major investment, the present buildings are to be demolished this month and the new terminal’s cornerstone to be laid in July. The new facility is expected to be ready early next year, when it will become the group’s French headquarters with adjoining offices and hangars.
A Citation Excel and a Bravo from the Flying Group fleet will share bases at Le Bourget and Cannes, depending on needs. Paindavin said that for loyal charter clients, they will position the Bravo or Excel out of Cannes or Paris at the same price.
Flying Group made its first incursion into the French business aviation scene in April 2004 when it took over private French company Cap Camarat Business Jet, based at Cannes-Mandelieu Airport in the south of France. In January it started a construction project there which will include almost 26,000 sq ft of hangars, 3,500 sq ft of offices and technical facilities, and 15,600 sq ft of ramp space. The first phase of this work is due to be complete by July 1.