EBACE Convention News

Lyon Bron airport plans building spree while eyeing new operators

 - May 17, 2008, 3:29 AM

Representatives of Lyon Bron Airport (Booth No. 1057) are here at EBACE discussing plans to build new hangars to attract more operators. Last year, the facility boasted a 14-percent growth in business aircraft movements to a total of 7,200 and has set a target of 10,000 movements in 2012. According to business unit manager Eric Dumas, NetJets Europe is Lyon Bron’s best non-local customer. He also said 2007’s growth has benefited local flight operations such as Oyonnair, THS and Pan Européenne Air Services.

To encourage more operators to base business aircraft at Lyon Bron, the airport’s management team claims to have a trump card–215,000 sq ft of land available for construction. This is a rare opportunity at an airport located in close proximity to a major European city.

“We are starting to build the first 32,000-square-foot hangar this year and are planning on a mid-2009 completion,” Dumas told EBACE Convention News. The approximate dimensions of the structure are 330 by 90 by 30 feet. The hangar will be the first shelter to be built there since 1988.

The ?2.1 million ($3.2 million) hangar will offer two types of occupancy: One, a straightforward rental of a given area of space; the other, a so-called “sheltering agreement.” Under that type of agreement, the airport guarantees the customer’s aircraft will be towed out before a flight and housed after it returns. However, the aircraft’s parking spot in the hangar may vary.

The airport plans to build additional hangars similar to the one under construction, depending upon operator demand, Dumas said.

Sustainable development is one of Lyon Airport’s key goals, Dumas explained, so he and his team are mulling the case for equipping the hangar’s roof with photovoltaic (sun-to-electricity) panels. The cost of such a project would be approximately ?700,000 ($1 million) but the airport would sell the electricity collected to electric power provider EDF, which, by law, must buy it at a premium price to encourage renewable energy sources.

Lyon Bron representatives also are discussing expanding its handling operation to serve neighboring Lyon Saint Exupéry Airport. “We are launching Lyon Airports Executive Handling which offers handling services for business jets that prefer to use Lyon Saint Exupéry because of its geographical location,” Dumas explained. Operations are scheduled to begin on June 1.

At St. Exupéry, Lyon Airports Executive Handling will compete with two established handling companies, Aviapartner and GlobeGround. “Our target market share for the first year is 20 percent,” Dumas said. The company plans to increase its workforce at Lyon Bron from 16 to 20 to ease the dispatch of technicians between the two airports, which are 12 miles distant; initially, no permanent staff will be based at St. Exupéry.

In 2007, St. Exupéry, Lyon’s main commercial airport, received about 600 business aircraft. That number represents only 10 percent of the business aviation flights to the city–Lyon Bron attracts the majority. Lyon’s chamber of commerce owns and operates both airports.