ExecuJet: From South Africa to Luxembourg (via Zurich) as Luxaviation buys

Alasdair Whyte

As a company serving a niche, ExecuJet is not a household name in South Africa. But it should be. Many South African companies including brewer SAB Miller, financier Investec and AngloAmerican have dominated overseas. But very few have managed to become truly global like ExecuJet.

ExecuJet was launched at Lanseria Airport, Johanneburg’s business aviation airport in 1991. It started by offering maintenance on Honeywell Systems (then Allied Signal) before becoming a Bombardier Learjet Authorised Service Facility and moving into operations.

In 1994 it became the sales representative for Bombardier in Southern Africa (competing alongside NAC which represented Beechcraft and Comair with Cessna).

Happy with its sales in Africa, Bombardier asked ExecuJet if it would be interested in selling its aircraft in Europe. In 1997 it launched ExecuJet Scandinavia from Denmark. ExecuJet and Bombardier replicated this again in the Middle East (opening in Dubai in 1999), Australia (Sydney in 2000), Switzerland (2001) with the firm also entering Mexico in 2002.

Arguably the most significant move was in 2001, when ExecuJet opened an aircraft management business and a Fixed Base Operation (FBO) in Zurich. The company’s headquarters moved from South Africa to Zurich (and it became Bombardier’s rep in Switzerland).

“I guess I think of ExecuJet as a Swiss company now,” says Niall Olver the outgoing chairman following the acquisition by Luxaviation. “But the company very much has a South African heritage and a lot of South African’s in senior positions.” Five of ExecuJet’s most senior managers – including Olver – grew up in South Africa.

In 2009 ExecuJet stopped selling for Bombardier but it continued its international growth, setting up FBOs and maintenance facilities.

With Luxaviation buying ExecuJet, the company will now get another culture. Patrick Hansen, co-CEO of Luxaviation adds: “Although we are growing fast and are international, Luxembourg is very much at the heart of Luxaviation.”

ExecuJet’s international expansion

1991: Launches as a maintenance provider at Johannesburg’s Lanseria Airport

1993: Appointed a Major Service Centre by Honeywell (formerly Allied Signal) and a Learjet Authorised Service Facility by Bombardier.

1994: Becomes Bombardier sales representative for Southern Africa.

1997: Starts representing Bombardier in Scandinavia and launches ExecuJet Scandinavia in Denmark.

1999: Launches ExecuJet Middle East in Dubai with sales franchise for 10 Middle Eastern countries.

2000: ExecuJet Australia launched includes aircraft management and maintenance centre at Sydney Airport and dealership rights for Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific.

2001: Opens aircraft management and Fixed Base Operation (FBO) in Zurich which became the headquarters for ExecuJet Aviation Group. Bombardier adds Switzerland to ExecuJet’s business aircraft dealership.

2002 Launches operations at two Mexican Airports in Monterrey.

2002: Moves into larger facility at Lanseria.

2005: ExecuJet appointed as Middle East Bombardier Authorised Service Centre in Dubai

2005: Invests in Lufthansa Bombardier Aviation Services in Berlin.

2006: Opens FBO at Berlin Schönefeld

2006: ExecuJet Australasia opens line maintenance base in Melbourne, Australia.

2008: Acquires hangar for maintenance at Singapore’s Seletar Airport

2008: Granted Air operator’s certificate (AOC) fin the UK. Opens FBO based at London Cambridge.

2008: Opens offices in Mumbai, Beijing and Moscow

2009: Opens net FBO facility in Cape Town, ready for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

2009 ExecuJet Malaysia maintenance base established in Kuala Lumpur.

2010: Becomes operator of the General Aviation terminal in Berlin.

2010: ExecuJet Mexico opens office at Toluca Airport.

2010: France ExecuJet partnered with Advanced Air Support for the FBO at Paris Le Bourget airport

2010: Joint venture established with China SiChuan Haite and ExecuJet Haite Aviation Services China was born, based at Tianjin BinHai International Airport.

2011: Opens new FBO facilities at Frankfurt, Melbourne, Wellington, Gerona, Ibiza, Barcelona and Valencia.

2011: New FBO opened at Istanbul Atatürk Airport, Turkey run by Bilen Air Service in strategic partnership with ExecuJet.

2012: London Cambridge FBO opens.

2012: ExecuJet and RUAG start partnership FBO in Geneva.

2012: FBO opens in Lagos, Nigeria

2012: ExecuJet Australasia opens maintenance facilities in Perth in 2013

2012: Starts joint venture with NAS Holdings in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

2014: FBO opens at Bali International Airport.

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