Germany's Cirrus Group, which owns regional operators Cirrus Airlines and Augsburg Airways, is to merge with executive jet specialist DCA to build a strong European business aviation company with a fleet that is set to grow from 29 to 33 aircraft in the medium term.

Stuttgart-based DCA, originally DaimlerChrysler Aviation, was acquired by businessman Lutz Helmig earlier this year and now forms part of his family's diversified company ATON. Under the merger plan ATON will have a 51% share of the combined company while Saarbrucken-based Cirrus Group's founder Gerd Brandecker will hold the other 49% and contribute his firm.

The companies' business aviation interests - DCA and Cirrus Aviation - will be combined, while a separate business division will enable Cirrus Airlines and Augsburg Airways to continue operating independently.

They plan to form an airline group with "high potential for growth" and combined sales for 2007 projected at €280 million ($380 million).

Source: Flight International