ExecuJet Looks to Cambridge for Growth

 - May 20, 2014, 2:00 AM
ExecuJet has a large hangar adjoining the FBO. A window looks out on the hangar from the crew rest area.

Around two years ago ExecuJet established an FBO operation at Cambridge International Airport, leasing the premises from airport owner Marshall Aviation Services. While that business has grown significantly, ExecuJet identified Cambridge as an ideal location for handling its planning and support business, and consequently moved a large portion of that activity to a location alongside the Cambridge FBO.

The Cambridge team currently supports around about 80 of ExecuJet’s overall managed fleet of around 180 aircraft operating in Europe, the Middle East, Malaysia and Australia. This week the company has announced that it is to expand the Cambridge activity to provide a centralized services department for the company’s global managed fleet.

Heading the new organization is John Brutnell, formerly operations director for ExecuJet Europe, and now aircraft operations director for ExecuJet’s Aviation Group. He will also manage the Europe Flight Operations department. “We thought we could be more efficient here in expanding our back-office business,” he told AIN. “Cost was an important factor;: Switzerland is very expensive.” From the Cambridge office ExecuJet offers a 24-hour, 365-days- per- year dispatch team that handles all support functions, such as permits, ground handling, trip support, oversight, pilot training and administration.

Gerrit Basson, COO for ExecuJet Aviation Group (Booth 5629), commented that, “We see our customers benefiting from our global services approach, by being supported globally at a true 24/7 support center where best industry practices can readily be adopted because of the scale of ExecuJet’s operations worldwide.”

Operational for two years, the Cambridge FBO has seen 20 percent year-on-year growth, and is set for further expansion. Around 3,000 flights passed through the FBO last year. Marshall has opened a smart passenger terminal close by that is used for customs/immigration clearances, and also some commercial flights. The relationship between landlord and tenant is good for both. “It’s like a joint venture,” commented said Brutnell. “We’re happy to be here and Cambridge needed a big FBO brand. We both want the same thing. We both want to drive up traffic.”

Ideal Location

Cambridge provides good opportunities for that growth. The racecourse at Newmarket and the stables that have built up around it are a growing factor in the increasing of traffic, while the airport is around an hour’s drive from the east side of London and the cCity’s commercial district. An AOC has recently been granted for a helicopter service to London using Airbus Helicopters EC155s, and ExecuJet now offers a short-notice, 25-minute shuttle service to The London Heliport at Battersea. Cambridge airport itself has no slot constraints and no time restrictions.

To the north, east and northwest there is a considerable distance to the next bizav-friendly airport, giving Cambridge a wide catchment area. The city itself, and its world-famous university, is also growing fast as a high-tech business hub, and has recently welcomed several important multi-national companies who that have identified the room space for cost-effective expansion as a reason to relocate important parts of their businesses to Cambridge. The terminal and FBO infrastructure at the airport can easily handle corporate shuttle requirements.

ExecuJet is among many companies seeing the overall market coming back this year. Positioned primarily at the heavier- aircraft end of the market and with a solid global brand, the company has fared better than many in recent years. “We have retained our customers through difficult times,” said Brutnell. “It speaks volumes for our service levels.”

As the market cautiously recovers, there are legaciesstill some issues. Banks are more cautious about aircraft management by small companies, and they have moved towards larger ones, with asset management having become an very important element. ExecuJet is one of the larger companies that gets recommended to owners.

In five years’ time ExecuJet aims to be “more integrated. One global powerful management company,” said Brutnell. “Aircraft management needs to be done properly. It’s not a game,” he added. “That is what ultimately delivers safety and value to the customer.”