Hawthorne Global Aviation plans to further boost its network of fixed base operation (FBO) facilities by the end of the year with a further three set to be snapped up – including its first on the West Coast of the USA.

The 82-year-old North Charleston, South Carolina-based company has already been busy in the market this year. In July it acquired the FBO facility at Cobb County airport near Atlanta and earlier this month followed that up with a deal for Heartland Aviation, based at Chippewa Valley airport in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.

Added to that, it also opened a 30,000ft² new-build facility at Chicago Executive airport, which, says Steven Levesque, chief executive and president of Hawthorne, “was designed from the ground up”.

Its acquisitions are located at secondary airports, which, Levesque says is part of the company’s strategy. “We are looking for growth airports. Chicago Executive is growing because Midway is full.

“Our strategy isn’t to go after every top tier airport but to find growth opportunities.”

Customers are generally receptive, he says, and even though they may spend longer on the ground getting to their final destination “that’s a lot less expensive than spending time in the air or waiting for a take-off slot burning fuel”.

Additionally, Hawthorne offers charter and jet management services through its sister firm ExcelAire. Presently its fleet comprises 20 large-cabin business jets – mainly Gulfstream GIVs and GVs – but Levesque anticipates this growing in the fourth quarter, with a target of 25 aircraft by year-end.

Although the industry has yet to regain activity levels seen prior to 2008, Levesque feels there are at least “tailwinds” of growth and hepraises the industry for its efforts in “educating the general public”.

He says: “People have come to understand that business aviation is a tool. It is a way to use time more efficiently that makes people and companies more effective – it’s not a luxury or an extravagance.”

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Source: Flight Daily News