Independent FBO groups are at last challenging cozy ground handling monopolies in Italy. But the new market entrants have encountered resistance at every turn as authorities try to dodge European Union competition rules.
Aviation International News » November 2005
Swissport Executive Aviation (SEA) is opening a new FBO at Spain’s Malaga Airport this month. The move is the next step in the company’s ambitious plan to double its current number of European FBOs to 20 between now and the end of 2007.
Brussels International Airport records more than 13,000 general aviation movements most years. For the time being, Abelag Aviation remains the sole FBO at the Belgian airport, enjoying an informal monopoly despite several attempts by competitors to enter this key market.
The ExecuJet Aviation FBO at Zurich Kloten Airport has installed a WLAN high-speed communications connection for passenger and crew use. Also new is a vending machine selling snacks and drinks, giving visitors choices beyond the complimentary coffee and mineral water.
FBOs at Paris Le Bourget Airport, which makes a strong claim to be Europe’s biggest dedicated business aviation gateway, are experiencing growth with a steady increase in business aviation movements. At the same time competition is heating up, with the arrival of a new operator, a merger between two existing bases and the prospect of a completely new executive terminal.
Next month TAG Aviation is due to complete construction of a new terminal at Farnborough Airport. The 50,000-sq-ft building at the London-area airport will include an operations center, passenger lounge and offices.
Jet Aviation is preparing to open a new executive terminal at Dusseldorf Airport by year-end. The Swiss-based company has had an aircraft handling operation at the German airport for several years and now has the opportunity to upgrade its presence there to that of a major purpose-built FBO.
With more than 1,700 employees worldwide, including 300 in Europe, Signature Flight Support handles nearly one million aircraft movements and provides more than 110 million gallons of fuel to business, general and commercial aircraft each year. Over the last five years the group has invested more than $100 million to design, restore and equip 15 FBOs.
FBOs across the length and breadth of Europe are enjoying traffic growth at rates not seen since before 9/11. Expansion of the market for business aircraft handling is drawing new players at some airports, although this trend is still proving patchy due to continued obstacles to market access.
A recent report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) asserts that certain FAA ATC systems are vulnerable to attack by “disgruntled current or former employees who are familiar with these (proprietary protection) features, nor will they keep out more sophisticated hackers.”