Million Air Expanding Facilities, But Refuses To Grow At All Costs

By Kerry Lynch kerry.lynch@aviationweek.com
Source: AWIN First
November 04, 2013
Credit: Gulfstream

Million Air continues to expand its network of fixed-base operations (FBOs) through new franchised additions and has plans under way to invest millions into its new facilities.

But at the same time, CEO Roger Woolsey stresses that the company remains firmly focused on the FBO business – not the mergers and acquisition business.

Million Air has recently added a new franchise at Orlando Sanford International Airport, is about to open its third location in Canada this year, and is investing millions in multiple locations, including plans for a new flagship FBO at its Houston headquarters. The new facilities bring its chain to 27, five of which are owned by Million Air. The others are operated as franchises.

While Million Air continues to invest millions into its franchises and wholly owned facilities, Woolsey maintains the goal is to maintain its focus on the FBO business and not fall into a pattern of growth for the sake of growth.

And he is emphatic that he will not engage in a bidding war that drives the price of the FBO into an unreasonable arena. He acknowledges other chains on the acquisition trail and notes they frequently run into multiple bidder scenarios. “It’s a difficulty,” he says. “We are bumping into other brands.”

While other brands may be more aggressive, Woolsey says he has no interest in bidding up those properties. “We backed out of Miami … backed out of Atlanta,” Woolsey says. “If you overpay for your property, you can’t make money ... or you charge ridiculous fuel prices.”

Million Air may have fewer properties than some, but the company wants to stay true to its business model, he says, likening it to a Four Seasons approach with Target prices. This means fuel prices can be dollars less than at other locations. “If we get into a bidding war then we have to charge … more dollars.”

He adds that while Million Air is focused on the aviation business, “some others are in the mergers and acquisition business. And they are making a mess.”

As for its investments, the newest FBO to join the chain is a facility at Orlando Sanford International Airport. The facility is operated by Freeman Holdings Group, the ninth Freeman location in the Million Air chain. Freeman CEO Scott Freeman calls the Million Air addition a strategic move for the company that operators facilities stretching from California to New York. “In looking at the map, we have representation in the Northeast, Northwest, Southwest, Central U.S. and several southern locations, but no location in the Southeast,” Freeman says.


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