Emily and Arve Henriksen initially expected to open their Million Air franchise at Mobile (Ala.) Regional Airport (MOB) last year. “We anticipated a six-month wait negotiating the terms of the lease and up to a year for construction,” said CFO Emily. “It was a lot more difficult than we realized.”
Million Air Mobile finally opened this past June after completing the $2 million first phase of its construction program. Phase two is expected to be completed either this month or next. With a 25-yr lease at MOB, the Henriksens expect to pump more than three million gallons of Phillips 66-branded jet-A and avgas by year-end, including the fuel sold through the Phillips 66 Into-Plane program. Jet fuel constitutes some 85 percent of fuel sales for Million Air Mobile, with 85 percent of sales to transient customers.
Phase one of the construction project involved 5,500 sq ft of office and reception area, a 3,000-sq-ft maintenance facility, 12,000 sq ft of hangar space and a 9,000-sq-ft ramp on a total leasehold of 4.35 acres. The fuel farm consists of two 20,000-gal jet-A tanks and one 12,000-gal avgas tank with 4-in. piping allowing 300-gal-per-min pumping–50-percent faster than average. Million Air Mobile operates four refueling trucks leased from Phillips 66, including two 3,000-gal jet-A trucks and two 1,200-gal avgas trucks. The FBO employs 30 people, including eight customer service reps, 10 line techs and three maintenance techs. Arve Henriksen is president.
The current facility includes 24-hr refueling, a pilot lounge, weather-briefing room, conference room, Internet access and catering capability. Courtesy cars are available, as well as on-site rental cars, hotel reservations, laundry and dishwasher service and a passenger departure tram. Million Air Mobile provides complimentary Krispy Kreme doughnuts and coffee for every departing aircraft and never charges a ramp fee.
Under phase two, the north side of the FBO will see an expanded (85,000 sq ft) and strengthened ramp, capable of handling aircraft up to the size and weight of a Boeing 727. Also, the second story of the terminal/hangar complex will be completed as part of the second phase of construction, adding 5,500 sq ft of office area, an exercise room, quiet rooms and a kitchen. The five-year plan includes opening a second 10,000-sq-ft complex for additional office space and a second 20,000-sq-ft hangar.
Arve Henriksen, a veteran corporate and airline pilot as well as a flight instructor, identified five components of a successful FBO: a clean, modern facility; the right employees; an up-front weather planning area so passengers can see the pilots performing their preflight planning; good service regardless of size;
and strong maintenance capability. His wife Emily added, “We will not go head-to-head with any FBO on fuel price. It’s a surefire recipe for disaster. We’ve seen it happen.”