Aton merges Cirrus and DCAATON forms new airline group away from the mass market

Businessmen Dr. Lutz Helmig and Gerd Brandecker are to merge two German air transport companies to form an airline group with high potential for growth, outside the ground occupied by the large scheduled airlines and low cost operators.

Acquired by Dr. Helmig in January 2007, DCA GmbH, Stuttgart (previously DaimlerChrysler Aviation GmbH) will be merged with Saarbrücken-based Cirrus Gruppe. ATON GmbH, based in Fulda and owned by Dr. Helmig's family, will take over 51% of the shares in the new group, to which it will bring DCA, while Gerd Brandecker will assume a 49% stake and contribute Cirrus Gruppe, founded by him in 1995. No details have been made available about the valuation of the individual companies.
The aim of the new group is to combine DCA with its opposite number, Cirrus Aviation GmbH, to build one of the leading operators in the European business aviation sector. The number of executive jets used by the company currently stands at 29 and is expected to be increased to 33 in the medium term. Independently of this, a second business division will see regional airlines Cirrus Airlines and Augsburg Airways continue to operate, providing a stable core business with a focus on the German market. In addition, the group will offer technical and training services. The annual sales of all companies in the new airline group amounted to 255 euros last year, with sales of 280 euros planned for 2007.
Two holding companies have been created for operational business and aircraft financing. The operational businesses have been brought together under the roof of AB Aero-Invest GmbH and the investment companies for aircraft financing brought into Aircraft Asset Management AAM GmbH & Co. KG. The ATON group holds a 51% stake in each company, while Gerd Brandecker respectively his Cirrus Holding GmbH holding company hold a 49% stake. Managing directors of the Saarbrücken-based holding companies are Gerd Brandecker and Dr. Martin Kirchner, who is also managing director of ATON GmbH.
The Business Aviation business unit will have its operational base at the site of DCA (previously DaimlerChrysler Aviation) in Stuttgart and at the Cirrus Aviation GmbH site in Saarbrücken. The regional air transport business division will have its operational home in Saarbrücken and Munich.
A common brand will be created for the Business Aviation division in the coming months. It will be led by Dieter Heinen (DCA), with the rest of the management team consisting of Marc Ambrosius (DCA), Stefan Buschle (Cirrus Aviation) and Jörg Socko (Cirrus Aviation).
The second strategic business area of the new airline group is scheduled route serving, with an emphasis on regional air transport. With a fleet of 19 aircraft, Cirrus Airlines is a successful operator of point-to-point scheduled services on its own account and at its own corporate risk. The key destinations served by its network include Saarbrücken, Mannheim, Berlin, Hamburg and Salzburg. Cirrus Airlines is a partner of Lufthansa (LH), also offering the majority of its flights under LH flight numbers. In addition, Cirrus Airlines also operates its aircraft on a wet-lease basis – including crew, technical support and insurance – for Lufthansa, Swiss and other prestigious airlines. The fleet is currently being expanded to include larger aircraft, with the incorporation into its fleet on 1 June 2007 of four Boeing 757s, which will be used for holiday flights leaving from Germany.
With the new airline group in Germany, not only will all 1,600 jobs be secured, but a further 150 employees taken on. The Cirrus Group will be recruiting 100 new staff, while DCA will welcome 50 new employees. "I have been able to lead the Cirrus Group from nothing to success over the past ten years thanks to an outstanding workforce and am delighted to have found, in Dr. Helmig, a like-minded businessman to serve as partner. With him and DCA, we will have significantly more strike power," stresses Gerd Brandecker.

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