Global business aviation services provider Gama Aviation has acquired Jet East Aviation from East Coast Aviation in a $7.7 million cash deal that will significantly expand Gama’s existing U.S. MRO operations, the Farnborough, U.K.-based company announced today. The deal—which includes an additional $1 million in deferred cash payable over two years and assumption of $3.2 million in Jet East debt—creates an MRO operation in the U.S. with 400 employees, more than 90 AOG technicians positioned across the country, coverage of 65 business aviation airports, and more than 10 line stations and heavy, scheduled maintenance facilities.
“We believe this combination brings in an enhanced offering to our customers,” Gama Aviation Group CEO Marwan Khalek told AIN. “We’re combining two great companies with great brands and good customer loyalty and consolidating them into one, making access to the market for our customers easier. We’re giving them a bigger range of services. There’s some things we do that Jet East didn’t and vice-versa, so that’s now available to all of our customers. They don’t have to have two touchpoints to procure [maintenance services], it’s one [and] we can support them across more regions in the country.”
The merged organization will be called Jet East, a Gama Aviation company. Leading it as CEO is Stephen Maiden, who joined Jet East in March 2020 after 13 years at Constant Aviation. “Though [the deal] benefits our customers, I truly believe the greatest impact is on our people. In many ways we each had amazing talent, amazing people,” Maiden told AIN. “Both of us independently built very successful organizations in a similar manner but in a unique way where we didn’t overlap really relatively anywhere in the United States.”
He added that, as a result, the acquisition is complementary and gives employees the infrastructure to move around the U.S., as well as advance their careers within a company that will be stable and has deeper resources. “And that’s going to translate in happy employees and they're going to drive amazing service to our customers,” Maiden said.
Gama Aviation entered the U.S. as an aircraft management company in 2008 through the acquisition of PrivatAir. In 2012 and 2013 it laid the groundwork for adding maintenance operations primarily in AOG and line maintenance, which it began in earnest in 2014, Khalek said. Of late, Gama has become interested in expanding its base maintenance capabilities, he added. Also, with a larger footprint comes greater convenience for the operators that use Gama’s services, especially fleet operators.
“The convenience for our customers of knowing that they don’t have to run multi-relationships with a few companies in the Northeast, and some in the Southeast…we can support them across the whole country both for their AOG, line support, and heavy maintenance needs,” he said. “Particularly with this pandemic, people are trying to rationalize their procurement. They’re trying to rationalize how they support their fleet. Having a one-stop-shop that knows their aircraft, knows how they work, knows their paperwork…saves them money, saves them time.”
Acquisition talks between Gama and Jet East began more than a year ago, but the emergence of Covid-19 postponed the deal from closing last March, Khalek explained. “There’s been a lot of challenges…but we worked through it (the effects of Covid on completing the deal), we learned a lot about one another, and I think as a result of that the harder the journey, the sweeter the outcome,” Khalek said. “I think we’re very pleased where we got to at the moment.”