Atlanta-based Unifi Aviation acquires U.K. aircraft cabin-cleaning firm

Unifi staff handle an Aer Lingus flight at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport. Source: Unifi

Credit: Source: Unifi

Credit: Source: Unifi

Unifi staff handle an Aer Lingus flight at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport. Source: Unifi

Atlanta-based aviation services contractor Unifi Aviation is expanding to the United Kingdom by acquiring U.K.-based aircraft cabin-cleaning business Up & Away.

Unifi, which says its has about 25,000 employees and is the largest aviation contractor in the U.S. with $1.2 billion in annual revenue, did not disclose the terms of the deal.

Up & Away, founded in 2008 by Stefan Murphy, has about 400 employees spread across 13 U.K. airports, with plans to expand to London Gatwick. The company does aircraft cabin cleaning as well as aircraft deicing and private jet detailing. Murphy will become Unifi’s managing director in the U.K.

“We wanted to expand our footprint, said Unifi CEO Gautam Thakkar. “A lot of the carriers that we work with in the U.S. also have a presence in international markets, especially in the U.K. — Heathrow or Gatwick or Birmingham. It’s a logical extension.” He said he expects the market for contract aviation services to grow as airlines expand and focus on their core business.

Unifi is majority-owned by longtime Atlanta security firm Argenbright Group and minority-owned by its former parent company, Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines. Unifi was known as Delta Global Services, a ground handling subsidiary of Delta, until the airline struck a deal to merge DGS with a unit of Argenbright.

Unifi has contracts to perform services for airlines and airports across the country including aircraft cleaning, fueling, baggage handling, security, passenger check-in and wheelchair handling.

The acquisition of Up & Away is part of a broader expansion of Unifi parent company Argenbright Group into the U.K.

Argenbright Group, founded in 1979 by Frank Argenbright Jr., last year made a strategic investment into U.K.-based Amberstone Security and acquired U.K.-based security business Protector Group.

The newly acquired business will operate as Up & Away, a Unifi Aviation company.

Unifi said it expects to grow and sees no changes in daily operations and no workforce reductions at Up & Away.

The U.K. has had labor shortages that have “lingering effects,” Thakkar acknowledged. “We feel pretty confident that those will be overcome.”