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Exeter Airport owner seals aviation operator deal

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: August 29, 2014

By Olivier Vergnault

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The company which owns Exeter Airport is strengthening its presence in the South West after acquiring a new business in the city.

The Rigby Group plc, one of the largest and most successful family-owned businesses in the UK announced the acquisition of Exeter-based Capital Air Charter Limited. The acquisition by Rigby Group plc's aviation division comes following a year in which the group has invested £50 million in the region, including the purchase of Exeter Airport and British International Helicopters.

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. Both services are based at Exeter Airport and are the South West's leading operations of their type, with 35 full time staff and a roster of more than 70 part-time medical staff available on call.

They currently operate eight aircraft, and will continue to operate under their own brand as plans for new growth are finalised.

Capital Air Charter managing director and chief pilot Malcolm Humphries, said: "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." Capital Air Charter was built from scratch, launched 23 years ago with a single aircraft from an office based around the founders' kitchen table.

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.

Rigby group chairman and CEO Sir Peter Rigby said: "Regional aviation is vitally important to the economic development of regions, not just in the UK but across the world.

"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."

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