The founder of Gama Aviation says its merger with UK rival Hangar8 - announced as day one of MEBA came to an end - is part of a necessary consolidation in the industry that will produce a stronger player with a growing global footprint.

Marwan Khalek will remain as group chief executive of the combined company, which will adopt the Farnborough-based Gama Aviation name. His counterpart at Hangar8, Dustin Dryden, will become executive director.

Speaking at the show on 9 December, Khalek said: "Although things are reasonably healthy again [after the post-2008 downturn], it is a market that is highly fragmented and needs consolidating."

The merger with stock market listed Hangar8 - which must be formally approved by the company's shareholders at an extraordinary general meeting on 5 January - is officially a reverse takeover of privately-owned Gama, with new shares being issued in the expanded Hangar8 to fund the acquisition.

But it will require some rationalisation. "We will amalgamate the management teams and we will no longer need two UK AoCs, for example, so we will be taking cost out of the business," says Khalek. However, he adds: "Fundamentally this is not about cost savings. We have complementary offerings."

Oxford airport-based Hangar8 is chiefly an aircraft management and charter provider, which has recently branched out into the African market with a base in Nigeria. It manages a fleet of 50 aircraft.

Gama - founded in 1983 - has a wider portfolio, with an 80-strong management and charter fleet, a string of FBOs in the UK and USA, and a long-running contract to operate aircraft for the Scottish Ambulance Service. Last year it opened an FBO and base maintenance facility in Sharjah.

Khalek adds: "This merger gives Gama a great platform to continue our success as part of a listed company."

Source: Flight Daily News