Rigby Group acquires Capital Air Charter Limited

Airport owner takes over local aviation company...

Rigby Group plc’s aviation division has completed its second UK acquisition of 2014 with the purchase of Exeter based Capital Air Charter Limited.

Operating both the Capital Air Charter and Capital Air Ambulance services, the company has a long-standing reputation as an efficient, safe and commercially-capable operator offering executive corporate and private chartered flights, medical repatriation and urgent freight services throughout Europe.

Already the South west’s leading operations of their type, the services will continue to operate under their own brand as plans for new growth are finalised.

“This is a hugely significant announcement for both companies, one that will allow us to develop and realise its potential for in a way that simply wasn’t possible in the past,” said Capital Air Charter Managing Director and Chief Pilot Malcolm Humphries.

“Being part of the Rigby Group will enable us to capitalise on opportunities that we were simply unable to grasp in the past.”

Rigby Group, which under its British International Helicopters (BIH) brand already represents one of UK’s largest domestically owned commercial aviation and offshore helicopter services companies, plans to grow Capital Air Charter’s market share extensively over the next few years and to develop both its aero medical services and its contracted charter capabilities.

Group Chairman and Chief Executive Sir Peter Rigby said: “Regional aviation is vitally important to the economic development of regions, not just in the UK but across the world. I am delighted to welcome everyone at Capital Air Charter to our fast growing team. Over the last two decades they have worked hard to establish the company as the South West’s largest air ambulance and private air charter operator with an enviable reputation, and I am very much looking forward to working together as we continue to expand operations and build on that success.”

Confirming Rigby Group’s status as one of the largest single owners of regional airports and airport services in the UK and underlining its intent to continue to both grow its share in the sector and increase the role of regional aviation in the UK, the Capital Air Charter acquisition marks the sixth M&A deal the group has undertaken in 2014, and the 11th since launching its new acquisition strategy in 2013.

Capital Air Charter was built from scratch, launched 23 years ago with a single aircraft from an office based around the founders’ kitchen table. Since then an ethos of tight cost control and a commitment to service and safety excellence has seen the firm become the longest established and leading charter operator in the South west.

Capital Air Ambulance operates the air ambulance service in Guernsey, and also provides emergency back-up to the medical services in Jersey and the Isle of Man. It also has standing relationships with a number of brokerages supplying emergency repatriation services to Britons injured abroad.

The services are run by 35 full time staff in Exeter, Jersey and the Isle of Man, with a roster of over 70 part-time medical staff available on call. They currently operate eight aircraft: five Piper Chieftains and three King Air Turboprop craft.

Capital Air Charter Finance Director Lisa Humphries commented: “While this is undoubtedly a pivotal moment in the business’ history, for our existing customers it will feel very much like business as usual. We will continue to deliver the high standards and approach to service that has made us the region’s number one charter operator, and will carry that ethos forward as our membership of the Rigby Group enables expansion across the operation.”