Gama, BBA Aviation Merge U.S. Air Charter Fleets

 - January 3, 2017, 11:16 AM
UK-based BBA Aviation acquired Landmark Aviation's charter arm as part of its purchase of the Landmark FBO chain last year, but as a non-U.S. entity, BBA must sell at least 51 percent of the charter division to a U.S.-controlled company under DOT rules. Thus, BBA Aviation is merging its U.S. aircraft management and charter operation with that of Gama Aviation to comply with the DOT's foreign-ownership rules. (Photo: BBA Aviation)

Gama Aviation has merged its U.S. aircraft management and charter operation with that of BBA Aviation, the companies announced this morning. UK-based BBA Aviation acquired Landmark Aviation's charter arm as part of its purchase of the Landmark FBO chain last year.

The combined business, which has more than 200 aircraft under its banner, will be managed by Gama Aviation LLC under the brand name Gama Aviation Signature Aircraft Management. According to the companies, there is synergy in the deal, as BBA’s Landmark fleet is predominantly West Coast-based, while Gama’s U.S. fleet is primarily based on the East Coast.

Though both parent companies are UK-based, to accommodate U.S. restrictions on foreign management of U.S. registered aircraft, Gama’s U.S. charter management business is operated by Gama Aviation LLC, of which Gama owns 49 percent, while BBA’s Landmark fleet is operated by its air carrier subsidiary Sterling Aviation LLC. Terms of the agreement call for Landmark to contribute 100 percent of its ownership in Sterling Aviation to Gama Aviation LLC, while Gama’s parent company will transfer its 49-percent share in its U.S. subsidiary to a new holding company GB Aviation Holdings LLC, which will be owned equally by the two companies.

“The enlarged business creates a market leader and an unrivaled platform for growing our share of this massive business aviation market,” noted Gama CEO Marwan Khalek. “The combination diversifies our customer base and extends our network coverage nationally whilst simplifying the financial arrangements with our U.S. partners. As part of this strategically important transaction, we are also excited by the potential to cross sell our U.S. maintenance services into the enlarged fleet.”

The transaction does not include Gama’s U.S. maintenance operations, which it will continue to operate separately as Gama Aviation Engineering.