From the USA to the UK, fixed-base operators have been changing hands as industry consolidation continues. In August, Mercury Air Group completed the acquisition of five FBOs from Raytheon Aircraft Services for $8.25 million. The sites involved are at Ontario International Airport in California; Georgia's Hartsfield International and Peachtree-DeKalb Airports in Atlanta; and Corpus Christi International and Dallas' Addison Airport in Texas. Los Angeles-based Mercury already operated five FBOs in California and Nevada, under the name Mercury Air Centers. The acquisitions expand the company's operations from regional to national and give Mercury a leading position in the US FBO market. The original $9 million deal with Raytheon was for six locations, and negotiations continue to purchase the FBO at Hanscom Field Airport, outside Boston, Massachusetts.

Raytheon will remain a major player, with 12 FBOs, and has plans for expansion using the proceeds from the sale. The decision to sell some sites came after a study of its existing locations determined that some FBOs either duplicated efforts at other service centres or concentrated on activities outside the company's core business, Raytheon says.

Also in August, Jet Aviation took over management of the Las Vegas Executive Air Terminal at McCarran International Airport. Owned by the Eagle Group, and the largest and newest FBO at McCarran, the terminal has become the 17th location in Jet Aviation's worldwide chain of service centres. The Swiss company, which has headquarters in West Palm Beach, Florida, has nine sites in Europe, five in the USA, two in Saudi Arabia and one in Singapore. The latter, at Seletar Airport, was acquired from DHP Aviation in October 1995.

Consolidation is also under way in the closely related corporate-aircraft airframe and engine maintenance industry. In May, UNC completed the $150 million acquisition of Garrett Aviation Services and its six FBO locations. Annapolis, Maryland-based UNC says the purchase establishes it as the world's largest independent aviation-services company, with annual sales approaching $1 billion. Anti-trust approval of the deal required UNC to transfer its AlliedSignal TFE731 overhaul business to Sabreliner, which has also expanded recently with the acquisitions of DynAirTech and Midcoast Aviation.

Smaller-scale mergers and acquisitions have also been in evidence. At Jackson, Wyoming, Satellite Aero merged with Jackson Hole Aviation in May to create one full-service FBO. The co-owners of the merged Jackson Hole Aviation then joined with the employees of Knoxville, Tennessee-based Alliance Engines to buy the company from co-founders Duncan Aviation and K-C Aviation. Alliance was formed to overhaul AlliedSignal TPE331 and TFE731 engines and began operations in August 1995.

Internationally, FBO activity is on the increase. In August 1995, Switzerland's Zimex Aviation and Russia's Avcom formed joint-venture Zimcom Aviation, based at Moscow's Sheremetyvo II Airport, to operate and support Raytheon Hawker business-jets in the CIS. In November, the Swiss company agreed to assist Saudi Arabia's Arabasco in operating FBOs at Jeddah and Riyadh. Jet Aviation, at the same time, agreed to assist India's Eastern Airways in developing an FBO in Calcutta.

Mexico continues to be a growth market for US FBOs. AMR Combs has a joint venture with Mexico's SACSA to operate new FBOs at Toluca and Los Cabos. Garrett, now part of UNC, is assisting SACSA in development of a maintenance centre at Toluca and, in May, Oklahoma-based Downtown Airpark joined forces with Mexico's TAESA to develop Downtown Airpark-Mexico at Toluca, now Mexico City's general-aviation airport.

While the USA's largest player remains Signature Flight Support, it is now wholly owned by the UK's BBA Group following its August acquisition of the outstanding 32% share. Signature is proceeding with plans to renew and expand its chain of 35 locations. In the UK, meanwhile, three London-area FBOs, at Heathrow, Stansted and Luton Airports, were bought late last year by Harrods Holdings - an arm of the London department store.


Source: Flight International