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Group integration with Luxaviation is “the right fit” for LEA and its charter customers
Luxembourg group Luxaviation has integrated UK operator London Executive Aviation (LEA), furthering the former's position as one of Europe's largest business aviation groups.
Read this story in our June 2014 printed issue.

Luxembourg group Luxaviation has integrated UK operator London Executive Aviation (LEA), furthering the former's position as one of Europe's largest business aviation groups. LEA is the largest fixed wing business aviation charter operator in the UK in terms of market share and fleet size, and operates a fleet of 26 aircraft ranging from the King Air 200 to the Falcon 2000LX. It is also the largest Legacy 650/600 operator in Europe, with eight of the type in its fleet.

As part of Luxaviation Group, LEA will continue to be led by ceo Patrick Margetson-Rushmore and md George Galanopoulos, both of whom retain significant shareholdings in the company.

With the addition of LEA, Luxaviation Group can offer the expertise of 470 employees across five European operating companies: Luxaviation in Luxembourg and Germany, Abelag in Belgium, Unijet in France, and now LEA. The group is responsible for a combined fleet of 90 business aircraft, with strengths in the large cabin market.

In common with other Luxaviation Group companies, LEA will retain its identity, leadership and operational independence while benefitting from synergies within the group, for example economies of scale in the purchasing of fuel, insurance, training and other significant costs.

Patrick Hansen, co-ceo of Luxaviation, says: “The integration of LEA into Luxaviation represents a further important step in our international growth strategy and superbly complements our market-leading operations in Germany, France, Belgium and Luxembourg. With economic recovery beginning to take hold across Europe, this is the ideal time to create a new force in European business aviation that harnesses the expertise, reputation and combined scale of the region's most outstanding operators.”

Margetson-Rushmore says that LEA has been approached several times a year with integration proposals, and feels that on this occasion, the offer made sense: “It just transpired that the right things fitted, not just for George and I, but more importantly for our owners and our charter broker customers.

“Part of Lux's overall philosophy, which is similar to ours, is about retention of the branding and the cultural awareness that you need to have of different geographical locations. So the name LEA remains. From our perspective, we haven't sold up everything, we have merged in part and still maintain a substantial interest in the company.

“From a customer and owner perspective, they are dealing with the same company, the same people, George and I are still running it at the helm, and it is not a one or two-year period and then departing – it is a permanent thing that we will be part of the group.”

He adds that owners affiliated with LEA will be able to draw on the additional resources of the group in terms of manpower and bulk purchasing. “We can negotiate a better rate, so for them it is a win. They get the same service from the same people but with benefits on efficiencies.

“For those that like their aircraft chartered out when they are not using them, they've now got a wider audience that includes the availability of the client base of other group members.”

Margetson-Rushmore believes that the Luxembourg group will gain from his company's experience in charter. “We do a lot of band tours and have a very good relationship with all the brokers. We are very quick to respond.

“Unijet and Abelag historically have been more focused on the management side, and so they'll be able to learn from LEA about charter synergies.

“Now we are not just exposed to one insular way but instead four methods of doing business. I think we are all actually going to learn a lot.”