Los Angeles Business Journal

Maguire Aviation Gives Up Van Nuys Airport Leases

By Business Journal Staff Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Los Angeles Board of Airport Commissioners on Monday approved the transfer of leases at Van Nuys Airport from Maguire Aviation to Signature Flight Support.

The move makes Signature, which already operates hangar space and fuel sales at the airport, the largest leaseholder at Van Nuys. Taking over the Maguire leases gives Signature an additional 2 million square feet of hangar, ramp, passenger lounges and offices space over 57 acres at the airport.

The deal between Maguire Aviation and Signature, owned by BBA Aviation in London, is valued at $69 million.

While no longer leasing property at the Valley airfield, Maguire, owned by real estate developer Robert Maguire, will continue as the developer on new hangar space. The leases approved by the airport commission require the leaseholder to make improvements totaling a minimum of $16.2 million across three properties. Some improvements have a deadline of 2018, and the rest in 2021.

Maguire Aviation, based at Van Nuys, began taking on leaseholds there in 2006 with its purchase of Petersen Aviation. The firm later added to its holdings by buying up other aviation businesses, financed mostly by loans.

The recession caused a dramatic drop in traffic at the airport. That, coupled with debts from other real estate holdings, led to financial struggles for Maguire, who made his reputation developing office buildings, including the U.S. Bank Tower in downtown Los Angeles.

With the lack of capital, Maguire failed to make improvements to airport properties as required by the leases. He also sold off many of his assets, including the leases.