NBAA Convention News

Integrated FBO chain ready to grow again

 - October 22, 2009, 8:40 AM

Atlantic Aviation came to this year’s NBAA show with an expanded exhibit and confidence in the future of the company’s 72 U.S. FBOs at 67 locations (some airports have multiple facilities).

“We’re putting the final touches on the total integration of all the FBOs we bought in the last 36 months,” said Atlantic CEO Lou Pepper. All Atlantic facilities, except some Aero Services bases in Alaska, have been rebranded under the Atlantic umbrella. “The Alaska clientele are familiar with that name,” he said, “so we decided not to disrupt that applecart.”

The past year, Pepper said, “has been extremely trying for the whole industry. But we feel like we have more than our share of the best locations, and there are still opportunities out there.” Atlantic is interested in continuing to expand, but the recession hasn’t caused FBO owners to lower their prices. “A lot of times owners don’t want to let go at this new shift in value,” he said. “They remember the days when [their FBO] was worth more, and this hasn’t created the boom of buying that one would think.”

The Atlantic Aviation chain has FBOs only in the U.S., but may someday expand to other countries. “We remain keen on buying quality and adding to our chain strategically,” Pepper said.

Atlantic has spent millions over the last three years on renovations and has more to come. “We haven’t slowed down one bit in capital expenditures,” he said, “improving facilities, ramps, interiors. We just can’t afford to not continue to capitalize our business. There’s been no slowdown there whatsoever.”

Pepper remains optimistic about the FBO business. “It has been under great pressure,” he said. “We’ve come through great challenges, but the business is still sound and viable. We’re well positioned, with the right locations and the right business model to take advantage of the continued viability of our industry.”