A Midlands-based aviation business has expanded its operations into Birmingham Airport. BQ takes a detailed look at the new XLR Executive Jet Centre.
A new thirst for executive jet travel across the UK is driving the fast growth of XLR. The company is part of the aviation division at the giant Rigby Group, which is based in Stratford-on-Avon.
XLR, which was already running two executive jet centres at Exeter and Coventry, has now purchased the corporate aviation facilities of Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group, based at Birmingham Airport.
Midland entrepreneur Sir Peter Rigby, the founder and chairman of the Rigby Group, said XLR was now “poised for significant growth” as it prepared to enter a range of new markets from Birmingham – one of the UK’s busiest executive flight destinations.
Sir Peter said: “This acquisition underlines the company’s determination to fuel rapid growth through a blend of acquisition and organic expansion, and represents a significant milestone in that strategy.
“The establishment of a new XLR Jet Centre at Birmingham Airport marks a huge step forward in our plans for the company, placing its operations at the heart of one of the UK’s busiest and most accessible airports.
“This opens up significant opportunities not only in domestic executive travel, but also in servicing the growing market across Europe, Asia and the Middle East.
“Following our most recent investments in Exeter and Coventry, the Birmingham acquisition leaves us superbly positioned to execute our strategy of leveraging the group’s expertise and commitment to excellence, to create a new major player in the corporate aviation market.”
Rigby Group plc began as a technology company and has evolved over the last four decades into a £1.79bn British success story, with more than £960m in gross assets and 7,500 employees. As well as XLR, Rigby’s aviation division includes British International Helicopters and Capital Air Ambulance, while it also owns and operates Norwich Airport, Exeter Airport and Coventry Airport.
XLR’s purchase from Marshall has seen it take possession of a custom-built executive jet facility at Birmingham Airport, placing the company at the heart of a round-the-clock operation with multiple connecting customer flights linking New York, Delhi, UAE, and Qatar.
It follows what XLR has described as “solid growth” over the past year with the market for corporate aircraft remaining strong.
Chris Beer, XLR’s director of corporate aviation, said the company’s Coventry centre has already built a growing reputation as a major alternative to London for transiting private flights. Meanwhile, he said Exeter’s access to the South West had seen the volume of private jets arriving grow steadily, particularly during the field sports season. He added: “XLR already services an extensive client list of brokers and operators, individual clients and aircraft owners through its facilities.
“The addition of Birmingham’s 27,000sq ft, heat-controlled hangar, multiple large parking ramps, and a 3,052m runway capable of taking the giant A380, has boosted our capacity at a stroke.
“While we have already built an excellent reputation within the industry based on an extremely customer-centric focus, this latest acquisition will enable a significant step up in terms of both the markets we are able to compete in and our operational scale.”
XLR’s new premises at Birmingham Airport include an impressive, glass-fronted 44,000sq ft executive suite and business aviation centre. This is said to provide VIP passengers and private aircraft owners with “a seamless, discreet and efficient transit” through the airport, with lounges, dedicated crew facilities, flight planning rooms, in-facility security screening, a prayer room and a conference/ training room.
The centre has direct access to the tarmac and a view over the airport. The XLR terminal offers complimentary beverages and snacks, newspapers and magazines, a self-service bar, wi-fi and digital television. Experienced staff are on hand to provide weather briefings and slot information, ground handling arrangements, cleaning, catering, refuelling, baggage and aircraft handling.
Chris Beer added: “With a prestigious base now fully operational at Birmingham and ready to fly, XLR is ideally positioned to capitalise on Rigby Group’s accelerating expertise across the aviation sector to create a new force in executive jet travel.”
XLR Birmingham is based at The Business Aviation Centre, Terminal Road, Birmingham Airport, B26 3QN.