Business aviation services group Ocean Sky is about to start construction for an FBO complex at London Luton Airport. The new building will replace Ocean Sky’s existing FBO and will be immediately adjacent to its main hangar and engineering shops, with direct access to an enlarged ramp space with capacity for 30 aircraft at a time.
The redevelopment, which will cost up to approximately $13 million, will not be fully completed before the end of August, but the additional ramp space will be available for use during this summer’s London Olympic Games, for which Luton is expected to be a major gateway airport.
The FBO building will include what Ocean Sky claims will be a “luxurious” passenger lounge, concierge services and on-site screening for customs and immigration procedures. Ocean Sky CEO Stephen Grimes said the facility will give the company, which is also active in aircraft management, maintenance and charter, the ability to double the number of movements it handles at Luton within a year of opening the FBO.
“Luton is a prime location for business aviation in the London area, mainly because it is open 24 hours a day,” Grimes told AIN. “At our current facility, which we knew we would outgrow, we have been operating on an airport stand but we’ve always wanted to have our own apron joined up to our main base. The new facility gives us an FBO, hangar and two aprons–one for live arrivals and departures, and the other next to the buildings. Plus the site is away from the busy main airport terminal.”
Ocean Sky also operates FBOs at Manchester and Prestwick in the UK, and on the Spanish islands of Ibiza and Menorca. It has closed a facility at Valencia on the Spanish mainland because it proved not to be commercially viable. Grimes said both Manchester and Prestwick are exceeding budgets and Ibiza is doing far better than expected. The company is interested in opening another base on the island of Mallorca.
Meanwhile, Ocean Sky’s aircraft management business operates 24 aircraft, about half of which are on its commercial AOC. Most of these are Bombardier Global Express models and Challengers, as well as the Gulfstream V and 550, plus a new Hawker 4000. The UK-based company also has a charter brokering operation.
“2012 won’t be a particularly exciting year for the industry,” predicted Grimes. “We are slowly coming out of the bad times and the larger aircraft are still doing better than the smaller ones. The margins are still tight and there will probably be some more casualties because it’s tough out there.”