MEBA: Universal looks to expand outside North America

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One of the USA's biggest charter operators, Gulfstream specialist Universal Jet (stand E104), is looking to expand into the Middle East and Europe by partnering an air operator certificate holder.

The Boca Raton, Florida-based company, which operates a fleet of 14 Gulfstreams together with a Bombardier Learjet 55 and Embraer Legacy 600, is also taking on its first Boeing Business Jet in January. The 6,000nm (11,100km)-range BBJ will be exclusively for charter, says president Michael McCauley, who has been in the aviation business since buying his first Learjet at the age of 23.

Universal Jet is also adding what is likely to be the first Gulfstream G650 to go into charter service, in the second quarter of 2012. The former flight-test aircraft is serial number two.

The 17-year-old company owns a GIII and GIV; the rest of its fleet is managed. Around 45% of its flights are within the USA, but McCauley is keen to increase its international business by teaming with operators in Germany, the UAE and the UK.

"What we are looking for is someone operating small jets who would like to offer larger aircraft," he says.

McCauley hopes to add another 10 aircraft to the fleet in the next year. "We are seeing a great recovery after the downturn and we see a great future," he says.

Universal Jet employs 60 pilots and has bases in Teterboro, New Jersey and Van Nuys, California as well as a repair station at Fort Lauderdale, Florida.