On 12th December the foundation of the new Contact Air Technik GmbH was celebrated at Saarbrücken Airport. It was formerly known as Contact-Air-Werft (Contact Air Hangar Complex). It has now been taken over as an independent company by the heirs of its founder Gunther Eheim.
Its history is somewhat involved: The engineer and aviation pioneer Gunther Eheim, founded Contact Air Charter and Executive Aviation Company in 1974 based at Stuttgart Airport. Its technical location was from 1989 Saarbrücken Airport.
In the middle of 2012 the aviation company Contact Air was taken over by OLT Express Germany, Bremen. However, as early as January 2013 OLT declared itself insolvent. All flights were stopped.
Now the heirs of Gunther Eheim, who died early last year, have decided to separate out the hangar complex in Saarbrücken as part of the insolvency process and continue to manage it as an autonomous maintenance and service company. On 1st of December, the contract for the takeover of the company was signed and Contact Air Technik GmbH came into being.
The ultra-modern hangar complex comprises a aircraft hangar, training centre, workshops, offices and a customer service centre. The services offered range from aircraft maintenance, technical support of fleets and engineering up to materials testing, advice service, training and logistical support. A well-practiced team of highly qualified workers ensures a high level of competence and reliability.
The outlook is optimistic, according to Reinhard Eheim, the son of the founder, in his ceremonial address to the many prominent guests: “Already next year we are assuming a growing utilisation of our hangar maintenance facilities. I am convinced that the way we are positioned at the moment will secure our future”. He is planning for a growth in maintenance contracts with the new formation, as potential opportunities like for instance the servicing of other aircraft types for instance could be utilised.
Jürgen Barke, permanent secretary in the Ministry of the Economy, Work, Energy and Transport emphasised above all the economic and social importance of Contact Air Technik for Saarland. He was plainly pleased that new prospects have now arisen: “A state like Saarland, which is continuing its efforts to change its economic structure and therefore its profile, is reliant on every job.” Technically oriented companies would fit well into the development plan of the indigenous policy. Furthermore, Contact Air Technik would be an asset for Saarbrücken Airport.
Georg Steinbacher, the former managing director and current member of the advisory board of Eheim-Gruppe, who since 1999 has managed Contact Air Aviation Company, started by painting an historical picture of the Contact Air Story: about the 38 year long partnership with Lufthansa, about the end of the contract in 2012, the shock triggered by the insolvency of OLT Express Germany and eventually the common struggle including the overall managing director of the Eheim-Gruppe Armin Luczkowski to retain the technological competence and workforce capability in Saarbrücken.
With the founding of the new Contact Air Technik GmbH the story has concluded with a happy end. A toast was thus drunk by representatives of the state of Saarland and from the airline, workers and members of the Eheim family.
The Eheim-Gruppe in brief
Gunther Eheim war a jet fighter test pilot and passionate flyer. In 1949 the engineer started to produce mechanical toys. In the 1960s Eheim invented the first ever aquarium suction filter and helped provide the ornamental fish aquarium with a worldwide breakthrough. Today, the Eheim Aquatics Group with headquarters in Deizisau near Stuttgart is the market leader in Europe.
Flying never relinquished its hold on Gunther Eheim. In 1974 he founded Contact Air as a Charter and business aviation company in Stuttgart and also integrated in the 1980s the SFD, Stuttgarter Flugdienst, into his consortium. (This still belongs to the Eheim-Gruppe.) Until 2012 there was a partnership between Contact Air and Lufthansa in regional air travel. After that, Contact Air was taken over by OLT Express Germany, Bremen. In January 2013 OLT declared itself insolvent. Contact Air Werft, founded in 1989 in Saarbrücken, will now continue to flourish, thanks to the children of Gunter Eheim.
Gunther Eheim died on 3rd February 2013 at the age of 93.
The EHEIM-Gruppe currently has 750 employees worldwide.