Terms like “blockbuster” are just about cliches in referring to consolidations involving the FBO industry. But the union of Atlantic Aviation with Ross Aviation qualifies. And in this case, it is also true that personal relationships play a role. Jeffrey Ross has assembled two other FBO chains—or “aviation infrastructure platforms” in press release-speak—that have been absorbed into larger groups. Like Ross, Atlantic CEO Lou Pepper has spent decades in the FBO business, and he cut through the corporatese in the press release announcing the deal, calling Ross his “long-time friend.” Pepper added praise for Ross CEO Brian Corbett, saying he welcomes the opportunity “to build on the great partnerships they have established … and the corporate culture they have developed.”
By adding Ross’s portfolio of 19 locations, Atlantic Aviation will rebrand them in its own livery and swell to almost 90 locations in the U.S. and Caribbean. For those who follow the bouncing ball of corporate control, this represents Atlantic’s first major deal since the reins of the company shifted from Macquarie Infrastructure Investments to KKR less than two months ago. Ross Aviation is owned by KSL, an entity well known to Atlantic’s parent firm.
As in any merger such as this, when there are airports where both entities have a facility, some maneuvering is necessary to satisfy the airport authority’s anti-monopoly requirements. In this case, there is only one such airport, Witham Field in Stuart, Florida. It’s unclear at this time if the new union will force divestiture of one of the facilities there.