Atlantic Aviation (Booth No. 439) provided a recap of its recent rapid growth, its service philosophy and its future plans at a press conference at NBAA’07 on Tuesday. Atlantic became the largest FBO chain in the U.S. earlier this year, with 61 locations, following its acquisition of the Mercury Air Center FBO chain.
“We have grown rapidly, but with a purpose,” said Atlantic CEO Lou Pepper. “We’re building a network in which our customers can flight plan to most major cities in the country and know that there will be an Atlantic facility there to meet their needs when they arrive.”
However, Pepper dismissed the significance of being the nation’s largest FBO chain. “We’re not impressed by that one bit,” he said, “Our number-one concern, our business proposition, is we have to be better, not just bigger.”
To that end, the company is enhancing its services, for example, hiring concierges at most locations who will assist customers with their nonaviation needs. Its Atlantic Awards brand-loyalty program, in partnership with American Express, provides rebates to customers for fuel purchases. And its regional management approach helps the company successfully integrate FBO acquisitions into its network, Pepper said.
As recently as July 2004, Atlantic, which is headquartered in Dallas, operated only 10 FBOs. The company is owned by Macquarie Infrastructure Co., a publicly traded U.S. company, which Pepper said provides Atlantic with the capital needed for its expansion. That growth is likely to continue.
“We will remain opportunistic when it comes to future plans because there are still a number of general aviation destinations that would fit nicely into our strategy,” said Pepper, noting that the company has only one FBO in Florida and would like to have a presence in Denver.
Pepper credited the advent of fractional jet programs with fueling the growth of FBOs over the past few years, as well as driving an increased focus on customer service.
“Everybody, even mom-and-pop FBOs, give great service these days, and that keeps everyone on their toes,” Pepper said.