The Middle East continues to be a key market for business aviation services group Comlux, with Bahrain being its main base in the region and home to three of its largest managed aircraft: a Boeing 767, an Airbus ACJ320 and an ACJ319. The Swiss-based company is seeing increased flying activity in Saudi Arabia, but group president and CEO Richard Gaona indicated to AIN ahead of this week’s MEBA show that increased competition, some of it from so-called “gray” (that is, probably illegal) charter operations, is inhibiting growth in the region. So, too, is political uncertainty with instability further north, in potentially promising markets such as Lebanon and Egypt, stalling the expansion of business aviation there.
“But we have a neutral approach [in this region] and put a Swiss touch on everything we do,” said Gaona. “The Middle East market certainly appreciates European quality.”
That said, the recent focus for growth of Comlux (Chalet A24) has been much further to both the west and east, with significant developments in both North America and Asia.
Back in September, Comlux America opened a new hangar at its completions, engineering and maintenance facility in Indianapolis, Indiana–its third hangar there. The addition of a 129,000-sq-ft hangar complex has provided space for up to four bizliners in the Airbus Corporate Jet class to be worked on at the same time. The facility also features customer offices, a clinic and a prayer room.
Comlux’s completions capabilities on site include cabinetry and work shops for sheet metal, avionics, upholstery and finishing. There is also an interior-design department in Indianapolis, as well as departments for engineering, certification, technical publications, document control procurement and program management.
Much of Comlux’s early work in completions and maintenance focused on the ACJ family, but the company has since built up a stronger portfolio covering the rival Boeing Business Jet family, as well as providing support for Bombardier, Cessna, Dassault and Gulfstream jets. Evidence of this came in October when Boeing contracted Comlux America to provide maintenance and a cabin upgrade for a pair of its own BBJs. The work includes removing the existing interiors and refitting them after modification, as well as a comprehensive upgrade to the in-flight entertainment and cabin management systems. The first of the two BBJs will arrive in Indianapolis in early 2013 and the second will follow next summer.
“We are extremely proud to be selected by The Boeing Company,” said Comlux America president and CEO David Edinger. “It was a tough competition and we have managed to demonstrate that our full in-house capabilities–engineering, certification, design, maintenance and production shops–make the difference versus several other centers.”
Meanwhile, on the other side of the globe, this year has seen the Fly Comlux aircraft charter and management division expanding into Asia. It now has two ACJs operating in China–one based in Shanghai and the other in Macau–and it has opened an office in Hong Kong. In addition, earlier this year Korean auto-making group Hyundai contracted Comlux America to do the completion work for its BBJ.