Jet Aviation was acquired by European private equity firm Permira Funds in 2005 and, barely a year later, bought major independent aviation services and completion center Midcoast Aviation of East Cahokia, Illinois. Now, the company has a new CEO–former Bombardier Business Aircraft president Peter Edwards–and is charting a course for the future.
Moments after an on-camera interview for AINtv yesterday, Edwards slipped out of his jacket and leaned back to field questions in a more relaxed manner. He is the first non-Swiss executive to take over the top spot at Jet Aviation, a company with deep roots in Switzerland and a long history in the U.S. Asked if he feels any unease at taking over what is a Swiss company with extensive international assets, Edwards pointed out that having worked extensively with Jet Aviation while employed by aircraft manufacturers Bombardier and Gulfstream, he comes into the new job comfortably familiar with the organization.
As for taking over a company with global aviation interests, Edwards noted that he has spent sufficient time working outside the U.S. that he feels at ease with diverse cultures and ways of doing business. And as an executive, he describes his character as more international than European or U.S.
It’s too early, he said, to begin making wholesale changes in a company that is itself still in transition and involved in digesting the changes that come with acquiring and being acquired, and at the same time adapting to a growing demand for its services.
On the other hand, he pointed out, when Permira bought Jet Aviation, the investors saw it as a platform for international growth, and Edwards noted that since the acquisition Jet Aviation has expanded its presence in Dubai, Asia and Latin America.
With the acquisition by Permira, Jet Aviation has the resources, said Edwards, to take advantage of “market rich” opportunities in expanding global economies.
Edwards described Russia as a market that has evolved and stabilized, and pointed to the People’s Republic of China as a region in economic transformation that is reaching the critical mass necessary to support an aviation infrastructure.
“With the broad international footprint represented by Jet Aviation, it is natural that we take a [global] leadership position,” he said. “We are beyond being a Swiss company.” But at the same time, he cautioned that leadership is not about simply taking advantage of developing markets, but assisting in that development for the long term as well.
While Midcoast continues to operate under its original brand name, and will continue to do so “for the time being,” Edwards seeks to create a more cohesive corporate identity within the company, as well as continue to establish Jet Aviation’s global name recognition for quality service.