Charter company Avolus is expanding its global reach as well as its portfolio of services in a move that sees a marked shift in its policy of being a non-asset-based luxury travel provider.

"The financial crisis has rocked the business aviation market across the board and it hasn't been easy for the industry," says Avolus co-founder and managing director Alexis Grabar. "The downturn has also opened up a number of good value business opportunities that will allow us to keep ahead of the competition and grow the company within the regions of significance to us, namely the USA, eastern Europe and the Middle East."

Grabar says Avolus is poised to complete the sale of Romanian business aircraft charter operator Eurojet. "This is the first time Avolus has owned any aircraft and through the acquisition of Eurojet Romania we are immediately the largest charter provider in the country with a Bombardier Challenger 604. Cessna Citation Excel and two Encores in the fleet."

The London-based company has also made its first foray into airport operations, having been granted by the Romanian government a 25-year lease at Bucharest's Banaesa airport, where it will build and operate a business aviation terminal. "We are building a €12 million [$16.9 million] facility that should be completed by the middle of next year," says Grabar.

Avolus's dominance of the Romanian market positions the company comfortably within eastern Europe, which accounts for around 30% of its annual turnover.

"We had looked at other acquisitions in the region, including Russia's Gazpromavia, but it is tricky doing business in Russia," says Grabar.

Avolus was established to provide for its high-end customers charter of private jets, helicopters, yachts and limousines; block fractional and block hours; and aircraft sales and acquisitions. "We are continuing to provide these services," says Grabar "but now we now taking it a step further and buying up companies where they have a strong market position, solid customer base and are a good investment," he says.

Avolus is eying expansion in Dubai and throughout the Middle East, the USA "at a later date" and the UK, where it has begun strengthening its aircraft sales and acquisition business. "We are also moving our headquarters from the UK to the Netherlands [due to its preferential tax system]. From there the holding company Avolus Group will oversee all the divisions - Avolus Operations Romania in Bucharest, Avolus Middle East in Dubai and London-based Avolus UK."

Source: Flight International