Signature suffers as DCA remains closed to GA traffic

 - October 3, 2007, 5:14 AM

Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) was Signature’s busiest base until September 11. Even after all other major airports around the country have reopened to some forms of general aviation operations, DCA remains closed to non-airline traffic. At press time, the normally bustling ramp at Signature DCA, the company’s flagship facility, was barren. The usually chock-a-block hangar was empty. The company remained optimistic that GA ops would eventually be reinstated at the airport, but at press time the unspeakable alternative had been considered.

“DCA is responsible for $17 million in annual revenue for Signature,” said Steve Lee, company v-p of marketing and development. “We’ve discussed the possibility of asking for rent relief from the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority. In the meantime, we’ve repositioned fuel trucks, tow bars, passenger vans and other assets to Baltimore Washington International Airport [BWI] and Dulles International [IAD].”

Mary Miller, Signature v-p of customer relations, has her office at DCA. She said, “We’ve dispatched six employees to BWI, eight to Dulles and we still have 12 keeping busy here. That’s down from about 60 employees before September 11. The other 30 or so people have found some work around the area, but we’re hoping they’ll be able to come back to us when we begin operations again.” Even with the reduced staff, Lee said the costs associated with maintaining the facility were reduced by only 20 to 30 percent.

Miller said phase two of reinstating airline service–adding more flights to and from more cities–occurred sooner than expected, leading Signature to hope phase three could be coming soon and that GA operations may be included. “We have no inside information,” she said, “but we’re hoping we could be in business by the end of [this month].”