London Oxford Airport-based Up & Away Aviation, the interior, exterior, valeting and detailing aircraft specialist, is seeing strong growth in its commercial airline activity now its customers have been steadily ramping up, post pandemic. The business is regularly supporting three premier low-cost carriers, cleaning and servicing airliners day and night, across nine UK airports. Its latest base is Belfast International Airport.
This sector of its business has seen turnover increase from £2.5 million in 2019 (when commercial aviation activity was split off from its mainstay business aviation work) to £18 million this year. A total 380 staff is now dedicated to airline activity.
“Covid significantly propelled this growth and steered us into more commercial work,” said Up & Away founding Managing Director Stefan Murphy, who recently moved the business’ HQ into bigger premises at the former CAE building at Oxford Airport.
Its latest Belfast base complements Bristol, London Stansted, Luton, Birmingham, East Midlands, Leeds, Manchester and Newcastle Airport. It is eyeing a South Coast base next, potentially Bournemouth, which is growing with business aviation movements too.
Its business aviation activity, centred on Oxford and Farnborough Airports and supplemented with bases at Manchester and the London airports of Luton, Stansted and Biggin Hill, supports 55-plus dedicated personnel. “The variation of work is vast – anything from a helicopter on a private lawn to a Gulfstream at Luton. The nature is ‘go now,’ and we are looking to recruit more detailers in line with our plans to move into France in 2023,” added Stefan Murphy.
Investment in 17 new electric Volkswagen ABT e-transport vans
These past six months Up & Away has focused on its green credentials with committed investment in all-new electric ABT e-transport vans. It has put 17 vehicles into service to date, making it the largest fleet operator of the type. The vans are converted with a customised racking solution enabling secure storage of cleaning equipment.
Sixteen of the vans are dedicated to its airline business. One lives at Farnborough Airport, serving visiting and resident business jets and helicopters. “We wanted a new
fleet that looked and felt premium and offered utmost reliability, as well as providing us with a sustainable solution to help us in our goal to become carbon neural. The ABT e-Transporter fits that role perfectly and we’ve been happy with the first few months of operations,” Murphy said.
Already, the business is achieving two nights’ work out from a full charge, plus a 50% saving, compared with diesel fuel.
The challenge, however, is encouraging airports to invest in required infrastructure, coming after nearly two years of losses, he noted.
During the pandemic, Up & Away focused on cabin disinfection work. This activity has dropped off around 70% now, except among Middle East and US clients. Instead, the trend has moved on to full scale, thorough interior aircraft cleaning and polishing.
Flybe at Birmingham
Up & Away’s newest customer is a new aircraft ground handling company, Assured Aviation, which is supporting the relaunched Flybe at Birmingham Airport. It has subcontracted Up & Away for valeting and cleaning its Dash 8 aircraft.
Founded in 2008 by Stefan Murphy, Up & Away Aviation Detailing provides a reliable, efficient and professional valet service with a now fully-equipped electric fleet serving key airports around the UK. Up & Away is security-cleared to work at any UK airport with airside permission, limiting downtime of aircraft. Its first-class valet service, attended to by a growing team of detailers, covers a wide range of aircraft and helicopters.
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