Jet cleaning firm predicts £18m turnover
UK-based aircraft cleaning and detailing specialist Up & Away is predicting turnover of £18m this year, up more than 620% over the past three years, after focusing on cleaning private jets during the Covid-19 pandemic. The firm, which has now returned to also cleaning commercial jets, is planning EU expansion next year.
When the cleaning of commercial aircraft, conducted by its division Up & Away Services, came to a halt during the pandemic, its private business, Up & Away Detailing, began to see a big increase in orders. “Our business aviation model has always done well, so during Covid we were able to use that money to fund assets to grow the whole business,” Stefan Murphy, MD and founder, Up & Away Aviation, told Corporate Jet Investor.
During the lockdowns, the company continued to build its infrastructure. “We were able to get into airports and build our operation, and when everything started up again, it was just a matter of staffing it,” said Murphy. “When we came out of lockdown, we had established more bases and had bought assets for 50% of their current worth, so we were in a really good position to continue our growth.”
Over the past three years, the Up & Away team has grown from 16 people to 380. Of those, 55 are based at Farnborough Airport and Oxford Airport in the UK. Redundancies due to Covid allowed the company to hire skilled staff once work resumed. Recruitment has proved a challenge during the past. “Because Up & Away Detailing offers such a bespoke service in terms of cleaning private jets, we initially found it hard to recruit and train people quickly,” said Murphy.
Meanwhile, Murphy planning expansion into France next year. A key target is the acquisition of a similar cleaning business and hiring more staff. “We are looking to recruit more detailers in line with our plans to move into France in 2023,” he said.