Gama Group Grows In Asia
Tough trading conditions aren’t discouraging business aviation services group Gama (Stand 955) from its goal of growing a global network. The latest evidence of this is that Gama’s Asian clients are now benefiting from the UK-based business aviation, charter, management and maintenance company’s recently opened Hong Kong FAA Part 135 operating base.
Hong Kong is fourth continental/regional base that Gama has established to complement and grow its operations in Europe, North America and the Middle East. Heading up Gama Asia is Neil Gibson, formerly with PremiAir’s charter and management division.
“We’ve been making a lot of investments both in enhancing existing infrastructure and making acquisitions,” Gama Group CEO Marwan Khalek told AIN. “We are making good steady progress [toward an industry recovery from the downturn] but of course we would like it to be quicker. However, it has to be proper sustainable growth built on the right foundations and there is a tendency in this sector to act too hastily.”
In his view, profit margins continue to be an obstacle to the long-term viability of business aviation. “One of the biggest challenges the sector has it that it doesn’t extract appropriate revenue for what it delivers to the end customers,” Khalek said. “It is a heavily regulated business that has little room for cutting costs. I believe the market would bear higher pricing because of the value and benefits are extremely good.”
In other evidence of Gama’s expansion into Eastern growth markets, its new FBO at Sharjah International Airport saw a doubling of movements during April 2012 compared with April 2011.
Since taking over the facility five months ago, the company claims it has achieved an average 30-minute aircraft turnaround time with “landing to chocks” time reduced to an average six minutes. A 25-percent increase in the number of business jet movements in the first quarter of 2012 versus the first quarter of 2011 was also recorded.
“Our Sharjah FBO has very quickly established itself as a ‘stress-free’ gateway for business and private visitors to Sharjah, Dubai and the northern Emirates and is the first choice technical stop for business jet operators,” said Dave Edwards, managing director, Gama Aviation’s subsidiary in the United Arab Emirates.
Recently introduced services include the establishment of Gama Engineering, a design, manufacturing, certification, maintenance, repair, overhaul and modification service for fixed- and rotor-wing aircraft operators at Fairoaks Airport in the UK (where Gama was originally established in 1983 by its two founders, Khalek and Stephen Wright, with a single Beech Baron). Gama’s most recent acquisition, Ronaldson Airmotive, is fully EASA Part 145-certified to provide engine and component overhaul services.
Meanwhile, the group’s Gama Support Services subsidiary, based at Farnborough Airport in the UK, has joined Hawker Beechrcraft’s service center network. It is approved to provide maintenance for the King Air family of twin turboprops, the Premier 1 and II jets, plus the Bonanza and Baron pistons.
In the U.S. Gama Support Services is set to expand its operation at West Palm Beach, Florida, by adding addition technicians to support operators wanting a “concierge” level of service. The company also has Part 145-approved repair stations in Bridgeport, Connecticut, and Teterboro, New Jersey.