One of Europe's largest business aviation services providers, Gama Aviation, says it is well on the way to creating "a truly global footprint" as it looks to add bases in Asia and South America to its UK, US and Middle East operations.

Marwan Khalek, chief executive and co-founder of the Farnborough-based aircraft management, maintenance and charter specialist, expects to have a "physical presence shortly" in Asia and South America.

"Work continues and we are not far off making serious inroads," he said. "The downturn has meant that we are about 12-18 months behind the schedule that we set three years ago."

Gama - which operates a fleet of almost 80 aircraft, about 90% of which are managed for clients - is also ramping up its facilities in the Middle East.

Last year it launched activities there with a sales office in Dubai and a United Arab Emirates air operator's certificate. Next year it will open a hangar at Sharjah airport and expand into Saudi Arabia. Its first Airbus Corporate Jet will join the UAE fleet in a few months.

Khalek said the company would prefer to "fast track our development" into the new markets with an acquisition or partnership. "But we have a back-up plan in parallel if we don't find the right bride," he added. "Bureaucratic barriers rather than investment funds are the main challenge for us."

Source: Flight International