Marshall Aviation eyes £100 million business aviation turnover


Cessna 560XL Citation Excel at Cambrdge (Photo: Terry Spruce, Corporate Jet Investor)

Steve Jones, the head of Marhsall’s business aviation activity, set out a number of targets during a pre-EBACE briefing.
Cessna 560XL Citation Excel at Cambrdge (Photo: Terry Spruce, Corporate Jet Investor)

Cessna 560XL Citation Excel at Cambridge (Photo: Terry Spruce).

At a pre-EBACE briefing held at the Cambridge headquarters of the Marshall Group, Steve Jones, managing director of Marshall Aviation Services, set out some of the goals and targets that he hopes the company will achieve in the coming years, including a £100 million turnover.

With these targets in mind, the Marshall Group appointed James Dillon-Godfray earlier this year, as vice president, business development, who moves from Oxford to Cambridge Airport, one of its closest rivals.

ALSO READ: Dillon-Godfray moves from Oxford to Cambridge

Business aviation now accounts for £60 million of the company’s total £1.1 billion turnover, up from £15 million in the previous year.

Cambridge, Oxford and Broughton

The group has three main locations of operation, Cambridge, Oxford and Broughton. Each plays a key role in the overall aviation services business based there; Cambridge is an authorised service centre for Cessna Citation business jets – it recently relocated from Hangar 2 to the much bigger Hangar 22 – as well as the group’s headquarters. The new hangar can be used to store aircraft and the company is actively looking for owners and operators who want to base their aircraft at Cambridge.

Cambridge has also served as a Bombardier completion centre in the past, which is something that the company hopes to restore, so that new ‘green’ aircraft can be completed before final delivery to the customers. Marshall also works closely with ExecuJet, the on-site FBO at Cambridge Airport. ExecuJet has moved a number of key departments to Cambridge, increasing the company’s footprint at the airport.

Oxford is the base of Flairjet, a company acquired by Marshall last year, which holds the company’s AOC and operates its aircraft management and charter business. Flairjet currently has a small fleet of four aircraft, consisting of two Phenoms 100s, a Citation 550 and a Citation 560.

ALSO READ: Flairjet CEO reveals motives behind Marshall take-over

Flairjet has a great deal of experience with Embraer aircraft, having delivered over 30 aircraft to customers; it also offers flight training on Phenom jets to new customers. NetJets Europe is due to take delivery of four Phenoms by the end of 2014 and Flairjet will train the initial batch of pilots.

The time for expansion

Jones wants to increase Flairjet’s charter fleet to include 20 aircraft, with an eye on acquiring new aircraft capable of transatlantic non-stop flights under management contracts.

Jones believes that only if you have a managed charter fleet of 20 aircraft can you make the business work. The company also wants a mix of light and long-haul business jets to meet demand.

However, there could be a problem with this strategy. Is it the right time to proceed with this strategy? Flairjet seems to have a reputation as being an Embraer specialist company and it has been difficult to shake that impression off.

Jones is of the opinion that the time is right for expansion, but he has other senior executives to persuade with that course of action. Again, Marshall could keep Flairjet as it is, developing it as Marshall’s dedicated sector for Embraer jets. Could it become an Embraer authorised service centre at Oxford?

It is a dilemma that might be decided by the EBACE show in Geneva next month. Whatever, Marshall decides to do with Flairjet, it will likely make an announcement at EBACE.

At Broughton in North Wales, Marshall has its Hawker MRO and Beechcraft service centre. Acquired earlier this year along with the exclusive Beechcraft dealership, this is a huge acquisition for Marshall. The company will also establish a Scandinavian office for Beechcraft in Oslo, Norway later this year.

The newly-branded Marshall Aviation Services at Hawarden Airport, Broughton.

The newly-branded Marshall Aviation Services at Hawarden Airport, Broughton.

Jones says: “There is a big resurgence of interest in this popular business turboprop and constant evolution of the King Air family with companies like Wheels Up in the US making it the aircraft of choice for their expanding fractional programme.”

Targeting business aviation

Marshall is now looking to grow its business aviation activity and is targeting more of its resources at that niche. With the acquisition of the Broughton business, Marshall is now one of the top ten European business aviation companies, in respect of workforce and for business aviation support and solutions.

At Cambridge in the next couple of months, the company is expecting an unnamed Middle East client’s Boeing 747-400 VIP to arrive for refurbishment and a complete interior re-design.

Marshall’s pre-owned aircraft business, JETability is nominally based at Cambridge (and operates out of Broughton) and has had a strong start to 2014, selling a Citation and two helicopters in the first quarter. There are high hopes that this part of the company will do even better during the rest of the year.

This strategy will give Marshall Aviation Services a much bigger profile. As a company it has a long aviation history but sticking its head above the parapet, it might make many friends but to some companies out in the marketplace, it might be seen to be more of a competitor than it was previously.