Luxaviation snaps up UK's largest charter company

London Executive Aviation, the UK’s biggest charter operator, has been snapped up by Luxembourg business aviation services group Luxaviation for an undisclosed sum.

The move creates one of Europe’s largest charter companies, with a fleet of 90 business jets and turboprops across five bases.

This latest purchase marks Luxaviation's fourth business aviation company acquisition in less than three years. France's Uni Air, Belgium's Abelag and Germany's FairJets were absorbed into the group in January 2014, June 2013 and October 2011, respectively.

"The integration of LEA represents a vital step in its international growth strategy," says Luxaviation co-chief executive Patrick Hansen. "With economic recovery beginning to take hold across Europe, this is the ideal time to create a new force in European business aviation.”

Luxaviation acquired 70% of the Stapleford, England-based operation, while LEA’s founders retain a 30% share in the company. LEA owns and manages a diverse fleet of 26 aircraft, ranging from the Beechcraft King Air 200 to the large-cabin Dassault Falcon 2000LX. The charter firm is also the largest European operator of the Embraer Legacy 600/650, with a fleet of eight aircraft.

"This is a great move for us," says George Galanopoulos, co-founder and managing director of the 18-year-old company. "We have had a number of approaches over the years, but this offer was too good to turn down. It’s a win-win situation."

LEA will retain its identity, leadership and operational independence, Galanopoulos says.

"Being part of Luxaviation will allow us to expand into the fast growing large-cabin, long-range aircraft charter market, and will enable us to acquire small UK-based charter companies, if and when the opportunity arises," he continues. "We will also benefit from economies of scale in the purchasing of fuel, insurance and training."