Giving background to the business‚ Oppenheimer said that in 2012 he decided with his son Jonathan‚ who is now the chief executive officer of Fireblade‚ to explore a long-held ambition to invest in a world class gateway into SA for non-scheduled aviation.
Non-scheduled aviation meaning aircraft that are not run by major airlines or on a schedule‚ and which serve customers primarily in tourism‚ business and public sector.
Oppenheimer said OR Tambo International‚ unlike most major airports in the world‚ did not have a facility dedicated to both domestic and international non-scheduled aircraft movements.
Further research identified under-utilised land and facilities within the Denel complex at OR Tambo‚ which could be turned into an ideal terminal for non-scheduled traffic.
“We then entered into discussion with the Airports Company SA‚ Acsa’s property company [Precinct 2A] and Denel. All parties were supportive of our proposal and in due course‚ we signed a lease agreement with Denel for the facilities in question and Fireblade Aviation came into existence‚” he said.
Oppenheimer said from inception Fireblade’s business plan‚ which they shared with Denel‚ Acsa and other key stakeholders‚ was that Customs and Immigration facilities should be available on site and these were always to be manned by the state. Without the ability to support international flights‚ it was clear that the business venture would not be profitable.