DaimlerChrysler Aviation, conceived as a corporate flight department in 1998 to transport the German-U.S. car manufacturer’s managers and technical staff among plants ranging as far as Stuttgart, Germany, to Detroit, Michigan, was a charter operator from its inception.
But early this year, the carmaker sold the flight department to Aton GmbH, an investment company based in Fulda, Germany. Aton is active in medical equipment, construction, education, agriculture, industrial equipment and machinery markets in Europe.
DaimlerChrysler cited the reason for the sale as the proverbial “to allow it to concentrate on the core business.” However, Aton sees considerable growth potential in its acquisition, viewing it as a business entity with valuable attributes that until now were focused almost exclusively on a single captive customer. By mid-March, it had rechristened DaimlerChrysler Aviation as DCA GmbH.
The new company’s core business is executive aircraft management and charter, and growth is a high priority. DCA also has a European Aviation Safety Agency Part 145 line and base maintenance shop for its own aircraft. It offers visiting passengers three fully equipped conference rooms in its terminal at Stuttgart Airport. For the time being, DaimlerChrysler is DCA’s largest customer and will probably remain so for the foreseeable future.
The automaker still owns six of DCA’s fleet of 12 aircraft, all operated on behalf of their owners under a management contract. However, DCA is expanding its customer base at a fast pace.
DaimlerChrysler’s flagship was an Airbus Corporate Jetliner used for a corporate shuttle service across the Atlantic. It is now in DCA’s fleet along with a Bombardier Global Express, two Challenger 604s, two Cessna Citation Xs and five Citation XLSes. The company added a new Gulfstream 550 this spring, and a second one is to
arrive in the third quarter of this year. It has another Global Express on order for delivery later this year, and two additional Citation XLSes are slated to join the DCA fleet next year.
With this impressive fleet and an experienced staff–it retained the entire former staff, headed by Dieter Heinen–DCA is one of the largest and fastest expanding operators of executive jets in Germany. The company operates out of Stuttgart Airport but also bases some of its fleet at Munich, both cities in areas with strong economies.