Business aviation services provider ExecuJet plans to boost its European-managed fleet by almost 25% this year, with almost half the growth expected to come from the UK market.
Last month, the Zurich-headquartered company opened its first fixed-base operation (FBO) on UK soil. The facility at Cambridge airport - officially unveiled on 6 February - is operated in partnership with the airport's owner the Marshall Group.
"We had been looking for two years to open a base in the UK," said ExecuJet Europe managing director Cedric Migeon. "Until now, our only presence here has been a passenger lounge at London City airport, but this is very small and there is no room for us to expand at the site,"
ExecuJet is transferring the operation to Cambridge and the transition should be complete by the end of the year, Migeon said.
ExecuJet's well-timed move to Cambridge should see the company attract a sizeable slice of business aircraft traffic expected for this year's London Olympic Games. Migeon said the event is expected to attract about 10,000 business aircraft movements and "we hope to secure a lot of this traffic at Cambridge".
ExecuJet is no stranger to large, international sporting events having handled more than 2,000 movements at its Johannesburg and Cape Town FBOs during the 2010 FIFA Football World Cup in South Africa, Migeon added.
Across ExecuJet's European FBO and charter businesses, demand has been mixed. "Our facilities in Zurich, Geneva, Moscow, Paris and Berlin are performing well, mainly due to the resilience during the economic downturn of the large and long-range business jet market - which make up around 80% of our 50-strong fleet," Migeon said. "If our business model centred around the smaller [light cabin] jets, it would be a different story for us at the moment."
However, ExecuJet's Spanish operation, which covers bases in Barcelona, Gerona, Ibiza, Palma and Valencia, has been badly hit by the financial meltdown and eurozone crisis, Migeon said.
Yet despite the fiscal gloom, ExecuJet is eager to expand its FBO portfolio further. "It is a good time to buy during a downturn," said Migeon. "As well as Spain, we are looking at other locations in our established markets - Germany, the UK and Switzerland."