Unifi acquires UK aircraft cleaning company Up & Away

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USA-based ground handling and aviation services provider Unifi has purchased Oxford, UK-based aircraft cleaning company Up & Away.

Up & Away serves commercial airline and private aviation clients and employs more than 500 people. The company has a presence at 12 airports in the UK and is soon to open a base at London Gatwick.

Unifi, headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia is present at more than 200 airports in the USA and offers a range of ground services from ticketing and ground handling to cabin cleaning and cargo.

Unifi is the largest provider of ground handling and aviation services in North America, employing around 20,000 people and last year reporting US$1 billion in revenue. Unifi was formed in 2019 when its parent company Argenbright bought a majority shareholding in Delta Global Services from Delta Airlines.

The Up & Away brand remains in place following its acquisition by Unifi, while its CEO and founder Stefan Murphy is to become Unifi’s managing director in the UK.

Ernie Patterson, chairman of international business for the Argenbright Group will provide additional oversight of Unifi’s UK aviation business, working with Up & Away’s management team to broaden operations into more airports, including London Heathrow.

Gautam Thakkar, CEO of Unifi said, “We look for three things in a company – the business as it stands, its potential, and the people – Up & Away is a great fit for us on these things and culturally with what we are trying to do. We want to provide all employees with an exceptional experience and grow a business from the right foundations of IT and people.”

According to this report, Unifi has used technology to successfully engage with its employees in the USA, principally with an app that lets staff access HR functions such as payroll and incentive schemes at its many different locations.

Stefan Murphy, founder and managing director of Up & Away said, “We are growing rapidly and are well positioned to take advantage of future growth in the market.

“In the longer term, Unify’s support includes below and above the wing which will allow us to move into providing other adjacent services and expand outside of the UK at some point.”

Argenbright has committed to investing £60 million in the UK in the next two years and is targeting the aviation services market.

“We are looking to expand in the UK, it is a market of strategic importance to us and is projected to only increase in the future, with more companies looking to outsource services to third parties,” said Thakkar. “We are always on the lookout for companies that meet those three criteria, but the acquisition has to be a logical fit. The aim is to enter the market as the dominant player.”

Up & Away has a presence at commercial and business aviation airports including London Stansted, Manchester, Birmingham, Newcastle, Bristol, Belfast International, London Biggin Hill, Farnborough, London Oxford. It provides cabin cleaning, de-icing, executive jet detailing, technical cleaning, and other adjacent aviation services.

Up & Away originally serviced business jets and has grown considerably since it expanded into working with airlines in 2019. Some 400 out of the company’s 500 employees now work in servicing commercial airliners.

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Ben has worked all of his career as a journalist and now editor, covering almost all aspects of technology, engineering and industry. In the last 20 years he has written on subjects from nuclear submarines and autonomous cars to future design and manufacturing technologies and commercial aviation. Latterly editor of a leading engineering magazine, he brings an eye for a great story and lots of experience to the team.

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