Gama Aviation ceo and founder Marwan Khalek has laid out his intention to be the 'most profitable' operator in the world, following a reverse takeover that merges the fleets and resources of Gama and Dustin Dryden's Hangar 8, and was announced in December 2014.
“This deal just made sense,” Khalek tells EBAN. “Dustin and I bumped into each other and thought we would take a look, and every time we turned one page it got more interesting. The merger terms, regarding valuing the business, were done on a like-for-like basis, so it is a merger, we are combining both businesses, the board is populated by executives and non-executives from both sides, and we are creating a bigger platform. With all of these things we are merging into the public entity and taking the Gama Aviation brand forward.
“In stock market terms it is classified as a reverse takeover, but the reality is that Dustin and I have still got our life's work in the business, and our intention is to put them together, take them forward and grow aggressively.”
Management will be a continued focus of the merged companies, with the revenue stream expected to be split between 30 per cent management, ten per cent charter, 30 per cent special mission and logistics including oil and gas, and the remaining 30 per cent from ground activities such as MRO, design and modification work with Part 145 and Part 21. Hangar 8 has recently moved into this field with facilities in Oxford.
“We are in the service business, and this is all about what our customers want, rather than what we want to do,” continues Khalek. “Unless you do it in a way that is appealing to your customer base, you are never going to grow the business. When you look at what clients are telling us they want, they want continuity of service. We could talk about different regions, but really these are aircraft that are flying around the globe, and the benefit of what a group with a geographical footprint can offer, with an aircraft departing from Sharjah or Dubai with our people there to look after them, and landing in London or Lagos or wherever, also with our people looking after them, has a lot of appeal to customers. They feel that they have never left base.”
“We leverage all of the experience from all of our worldwide locations, to support that client wherever they are coming from. We know little things that you need to know for getting into that airport or getting the right hire car company; whatever it is to support that client.”
Economies of scale are another significant advantage in the deal: “The majority of the spend for the client is what the management company spends on their behalf. If we can buy our fuel cheaper because we buy more of it, and can buy our insurance cheaper or flight support, a lot of that benefit flows back to the client. Customers have started recognising that.
“A larger operator may charge you a couple of thousand dollars more for your management per month, but we save you three times more than that through the savings that we can pass on. If you put all of these things together – the scale, the breadth and depth of experience in operations across the world – it becomes a very compelling offering to clients.
“Because of where we both started from, we wouldn't want things to get to a place where there are no smaller operators. There is a place, but it is becoming increasingly difficult. Scale matters,” Khalek states.
He believes there is no limit to the size that the company can amass: “Our objective is not necessarily to be the biggest, however, but to be the most profitable. We have a very public platform now. People can look at our financials, and the best judge of where we sit in the marketplace is our share price, because at the end of the day that is what it all boils down to.”