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Signature Aviation buys TAC Air

Global FBO leader gobbles up another rival

The largest FBO chain in the world just grew by 14 locations, with TAC Air facilities in Arkansas, Colorado, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, New York, Tennessee, Texas, and Utah now rebranded Signature Flight Support. The new owner announced Signature will honor existing TAC Air customer agreements during a "transition period," and is also "welcoming TAC Air team members employed throughout its FBOs."

An aircraft is fueled at Signature Flight Support in Frederick, Maryland, in 2016. Signature Aviation has more than doubled its worldwide footprint in recent years, and just added 14 more locations with the acquisition of TAC Air. Photo by Mike Collins.

The deal announced July 5 did not specify the terms of Signature Aviation's acquisition of the TAC Air division of The Arnold Companies, and Signature has been a private company since it was itself acquired in 2021 in a $4.6 billion deal that was the culmination of a bidding war in which the former owners of Gatwick Airport in London edged out rival suitors (and private equity giants) Blackstone and Carlyle. 

Signature posted additional information online including answers to various questions customers may have. Among these: "Any pricing agreements you have at a TAC Air location will continue to be honored by Signature during the transition phase."  The company did not specify how long the transition phase will last. It noted existing lease agreements "will continue to remain in effect during our transition period, including any terms and conditions reflected in your lease."

The FBO industry has been consolidating for many years, and pilots have felt the pinch as more and more airports have wound up with just one provider of services on the field. Higher fees have often followed. AOPA has pushed hard for FBO transparency—particularly regarding pricing and fees—in recent years, with mixed success. Signature Flight Support announced at the National Business Aviation Association convention in 2019 intent to release an online Trip Estimator tool in 2020, though AOPA and others were "underwhelmed" by that step given the many caveats, and there is no such tool currently evident or advertised on the Signature Flight Support website. (Contact information for the nearly 300 Signature FBO locations around the world is easy to find, though the industry has long resisted being up front about pricing, particularly in markets with less competition.)

The TAC Air deal gives Signature an FBO foothold in 11 new markets including Salt Lake City; Lexington, Kentucky; Buffalo, New York; and Knoxville, Tennessee; according to the press release. TAC Air had been competing with Signature Flight Support at Centennial Airport in Denver and Love Field in Dallas, and those locations are now owned by Signature. In addition to 13 FBOs, Signature's purchase also includes the TAC Private Hangars at Scottsdale Airport in Arizona.

"Following a transition period, aircraft operators and passengers will be able to take advantage of Signature’s expansive loyalty offerings, including the Signature TailWins point awards program and Signature Status operator loyalty benefits," Signature Aviation said in the press release. "In addition, customers currently based at a TAC Air FBO may choose to enroll in the Signature Resident Premier program, offering discounted prices and complimentary services throughout Signature’s growing worldwide network to those who call a Signature FBO their home."

The online announcement also included this statement from TAC Air Chairman and CEO Greg Arnold: “From the time we entered the aviation FBO business in 1986 in Texarkana, we focused on providing the best aviation ground services in the industry. We are proud of what we have accomplished together these past 36 years. This commitment continues as the TAC associates become a part of the highly successful organization that is Signature Aviation.”

Signature noted the newly acquired TAC Air facilities will be included in the company's effort to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Jim Moore

Jim Moore

Managing Editor-Digital Media
Digital Media Managing Editor Jim Moore joined AOPA in 2011 and is an instrument-rated private pilot, as well as a certificated remote pilot, who enjoys competition aerobatics and flying drones.
Topics: FBO

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