Atlantic Aviation is an aviation services provider and it owns the largest FBO network in the United States. FBO stands for “Fixed Base Operator”. The term comes from the time in mid 1920s when the transient nature of aviators and aviation changed to permanent based operations, which came to be known as FBOs. An FBO is given permission by an airport to carry out aircraft support services at the airport.
Atlantic Aviation was founded in 1927 and was originally owned by the Dupont family. It was formerly known as Macquarie FBO holdings and currently operates as a subsidiary of Macquarie Infrastructure company. Today, it is headquartered in Plano, Texas.
Atlantic Aviation’s services include FBO services for business aircraft and for commercial, cargo and military aircraft, renting hangar space for aircraft storage, fuel sales, de-icing services for airports, aircraft maintenance, and charter brokerage services (subsidiary Aura Jets). Fuel sales and related services account for most of the company’s revenue.
History, expansion, and growth
Current Atlantic Aviation CEO, Lou Pepper, embarked on a journey in 1997 to acquire FBOs across the country with a vision to end fragmentation of the FBO industry. His plan was to acquire FBOs and consolidate them under one umbrella so that FBO end customers could experience the same level of consistency in service, something that was missing at the time. He bought out the existing Atlantic Aviation chain in 2000 and has grown it leaps and bounds to become the largest FBO company in the US today with over 71 FBO locations across the country.
Their latest acquisition is of the Orion Jet Center at the Miami-Opa airport further strengthening presence in the growing South Florida market. Atlantic now has 5 locations in the state.
Atlantic also provides aircraft maintenance services through their 2 subsidiaries, Flightcraft and Proair. Flightcraft has 3 locations next to the Atlantic FBOs at following airports: Eugene, OR, Portland, OR and Sun Valley, ID.
Consolidation is a predominant trend in the FBO industry with Atlantic Aviation and Signature Flight Services doing the most acquisitions in recent years. Amongst key drivers of value for FBO owners, traditional FBO services are the most highly valued, followed by retail fuel volume, general aviation MRO services and charter and aircraft management. Even though Atlantic owns 71 FBOs today, which might seem like a big number, the industry is still very fragmented as there are a total of over 3000 FBOs in the US and most of them are sole ownerships.
The industry has come a long way from the time in the 1990s when Lou Pepper started with his plans. Funding for FBOs used to be limited, people and institutes weren’t sure about the robustness of the FBO business. Today, there is a lot of consolidation happening with private equity increasing their stakes in FBO ownership across the country. The industry got a big boost when Warren Buffet got into the game by acquiring private jet company, NetJets, in 1998.