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German operators merge to form 33 aircraft charter giant
A merger of the resources of DaimlerChrysler Aviation and Cirrus Aviation will lead to the rapid development of a big new German charter operator offering a combined fleet of 33 aircraft. Entrepreneur Dr. Lutz Helmig and his company Aton, based in Fulda, have acquired 51 per cent of the Saarbruecken-based Cirrus Group, while 49 per cent of the shares remain with Gerd Brandecker, the managing shareholder. The new company will include DCA (formerly DaimlerChrysler Aviation), which was recently acquired by Dr. Helmig.

A merger of the resources of DaimlerChrysler Aviation and Cirrus Aviation will lead to the rapid development of a big new German charter operator offering a combined fleet of 33 aircraft.

Entrepreneur Dr. Lutz Helmig and his company Aton, based in Fulda, have acquired 51 per cent of the Saarbruecken-based Cirrus Group, while 49 per cent of the shares remain with Gerd Brandecker, the managing shareholder. The new company will include DCA (formerly DaimlerChrysler Aviation), which was recently acquired by Dr. Helmig.

Brandecker says: "The aim of the new group is to combine DCA with Cirrus Aviation to build one of the leading operators in the European business aviation sector.

"The number of executive jets is expected to be increased to 33 in the medium term." A large proportion will operate as DCA/Cirrus Aviation managed aircraft.

Dr. Helmig says DCA traditionally has concentrated on German companies operating corporate jets. "A large part of Cirrus Aviation's activity consists of serving companies in eastern Europe, an area in which it has developed into one of the leading specialists. Together, the companies offer an attractive mixed fleet currently made up of 29 business aircraft. Being able to offer a variety of options is important in business aviation, as the 'planes need to cover widely differing customer needs. The criteria for an aircraft charter can include reach, speed, seating capacity and onboard comfort."

The business aviation unit will have its operational bases at DCA's site in Stuttgart and at the Cirrus Aviation site in Saarbruecken.

Brandecker points out: "Together the two companies offer a much larger number of sites providing coverage of the busiest markets in Europe, including Germany and eastern Europe."

Further international expansion, in conjunction with the "highly decentralised" stationing of business jets, will increase productivity and reduce the cost of a flight for those travelling to these sites, he pledges.

A common brand will be created for the business aviation division in the coming months. It will be led by Dieter Heinen (DCA), with the rest of the management team consisting of Marc Ambrosius (DCA), Stefan Buschle (Cirrus Aviation) and Joerg Socko (Cirrus Aviation). Mds of the Saarbruecken-based holding companies are Gerd Brandecker and Dr. Martin Kirchner.

Kirchner says: "Business aviation is an attractive growth market. DCA and Cirrus complement each other well, given that there is only minimal overlap between their business activities."

The merger news came as Cirrus Aviation was celebrating the arrival of its second Legacy 600 operated for the Moscow-based Travel Club Velvet, but also available for charter. Stefan Buschle says: "It is an eye-catcher with gold and purple coloured metallic paint. And it has plenty to offer on the inside too: the spacious interior of the cabin and roomy hold are without equal in this class." Its "standup" cabin is configured for 13 passengers.

The cabin's design, which is divided into three sections, provides both comfort and private areas, Buschle adds. "It has all creature comforts, from a video and music system and satellite telephone through to pleasant furnishings for sleep and relaxation. "Our fleet of Legacies will be increased to seven aircraft by the end of this year, enabling us to achieve an optimum fleet harmonisation."

The addition of a G200 means Cirrus will be operating a Gulfstream for the first time in addition to private jets from the manufacturers Bombardier, Cessna, Dassault and Embraer. "Hardly any rival company is able to offer its clientele as many types of aircraft," says Buschle. "We are able to satisfy almost every customer requirement."

He says more deliveries of G550s and G150s are expected in 2008.

The G200, he says, offers the "utmost in comfort to nine passengers. Its cabin is extremely spacious. A conference facility makes business meetings even more comfortable while a divan invites passengers to relax." It has a galley fitted with bar, fridge and oven; a personal communications system and exterior cameras.

DaimlerChrysler Aviation was founded in 1998 as DaimlerChrysler Aviation. Its fleet has an average age of 3.5 years (as of May 2007). There are 200 permanent qualified staff: It is a JAR-OPS 1 Operator with its own maintenance organisation (EASA Part 145 approved) and has an unrestricted permit to operate flights to the U.S. Its fleet includes an A319 CJ, a G550, a Global Express, two Challenger 604s, two Citation X and five Citation XLS.

Cirrus Aviation, a member of the Cirrus Group, was founded in 1995. It has its own certified maintenance operation and internal training operations for pilots, mechanics and cabin crews, as well as a a service company. Its fleet includes two Global XRS/5000, a Falcon 9000DX, two Challenger 604s, two Embraer 600s, a G200, a Challenger 300, two Lear 60s, three Lear 40s, a Citation Ultra and a Citation.

Two holding companies have been created for operational business and aircraft financing. The operational businesses have been brought together under the roof of AB Aero-Invest and the investment companies for aircraft financing brought into Aircraft Asset Management AAM. A regional air transport business division will have its operational home in Saarbruecken and Munich.

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