Tampa International jet center opens

 - October 8, 2007, 11:02 AM

Tampa International Jet Center (TIJC) opens its doors this month at Tampa International Airport (TPA), providing competition for Raytheon Aircraft Services, which had been the sole operator on the airport. The two-year project, including construction of a 12,500-sq-ft canopy in front of the 14,000-sq-ft terminal complex, is on track for its grand opening, probably some time next month, said FBO industry veteran Phil Botana, the new general manager of TIJC. In addition to the terminal, TIJC has built three 37,000-sq-ft hangars, with plans for a fourth hangar at least that size. The construction site survived Hurricanes Charley and Frances, despite the fact that the buildings–designed to withstand 200-mph winds in their final form–were only partially completed when the storms hit. Despite that good fortune–and a near miss by category-four Hurricane Ivan, Botana told AIN, “I’m anxious to get out of the building business and back into the FBO business.”

Botana said building a second FBO at TPA makes good business sense, for TIJC and aircraft operators. The new facility will provide needed hangar storage and line service for based and transient customers. He said, “We’ve been in discussions with enough prospective tenants–some from surrounding airports such as Peter O. Knight and Clearwater–that we think construction on the fourth hangar will probably begin in a year or so.” The new FBO also installed a 50,000-gallon fuel farm.

The $11 million facility will offer a full range of pilot and guest amenities, including snooze rooms, high-speed Internet access and an on-site commercial kitchen with a staff chef to provide catering services. Additionally, the FBO is having its customer service representatives trained at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel “Legendary Service” program.