AMAC’s new hangar is open for business in Basel

 - May 6, 2009, 8:21 AM

Earlier this year, AMAC Aerospace started operating from its new hangar at Euro Airport near Basel, Switzerland. The new business aviation services group has been able to implement initial plans exactly as announced a year ago at EBACE’08.

AMAC has completed an impressive 45,000-sq-ft hangar on schedule and started working on the interior completion of its first customer aircraft, an Airbus A320 owned by an undisclosed Middle East government body. This aircraft is to leave Basel in November when an A319 of another Middle Eastern customer is scheduled to arrive for completion.

Additionally, seven Gulfstream business jets are undergoing maintenance at the facility and the company is negotiating with another Middle Eastern customer for the VIP completion of an airliner. Currently, AMAC is working with outside designers, but it may build up its own design capability.

AMAC (Booth No. 158) employs a staff of 160, a number it intends to increase to 300 by 2011. The company has revealed plans to build another, larger 90,500-sq-ft hangar capable of accommodating a Boeing 747 and an Airbus A380 widebody simultaneously–or a greater number of smaller aircraft.

Construction of this additional building is to start this summer after a delay caused by wet spring weather. A 215,000-sq-ft ramp next to the hangar is available for additional aircraft parking.

Former Jet Aviation chief executive Heinz Köhli set up AMAC with several risk-sharing partners, including Kadri Muhiddin, Bernd Schramm and Mauro Grossi. The company secured a loan from a local bank and completed phase one of its development plans with the February 6 inauguration of the new hangar at Basel Airport. Phase two, with more staff and the additional hangar, is to start this year.

So far, the new company has invested $45 million. Köhli has not revealed when he expects to achieve a positive cash flow, but he indicated there is no risk of a liquidity squeeze before the completion of the second phase of the development.

AMAC obtained EASA Part 145 maintenance organization approval status in less than six months and is licensed to maintain aircraft of the A320 and Boeing 737 families, including their corporate versions, as well as the Gulfstreams II, III, IV and V and their successors. Authorizations for other aircraft types are to follow as needed and FAA 145 approval is expected next year.

In addition to EASA Part 145, AMAC holds authorizations from Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, Saudi Arabia and Nigeria. Köhli explained that FAA approval is considered of secondary importance in the initial stage, since his company is aiming mainly at the Middle Eastern market. In that region, owners of large executive aircraft are often linked to governments and have access to credit even in the current economic crisis.  
In addition to completion and maintenance, AMAC is offering aircraft management. It currently operates an MD-87 for a Middle Eastern owner and hopes to expand activities significantly in that field in the near future. The company has also started trading as an executive charter broker

According to Köhli, AMAC’s business plan has equipped it well to survive economic recession. “Thanks to our lean structures and manageable size, we are more flexible than many other companies and can adapt quickly to new situations,” he told guests at the opening ceremony. “We aim to make well-directed use of this agility as we build up business operations.”