Castle & Cooke FBO Chain Gaining Traction in China
U.S. aviation services provider Castle & Cooke has been an ABACE exhibitor since 2012, explaining the role of a fixed-base operator (FBO) to show attendees who might not be familiar with the fueling and ground-handling services such a company provides to private aviation. As the company returns to the Shanghai show for the third time, it is providing a translator (Booth H431) to more fully answer attendee questions.
Castle & Cooke operates three aviation service locations: in Hawaii, at Honolulu International Airport, and on the West Coast of the U.S. mainland in Van Nuys, California, and Everett, Washington. According to Tony Marlow, general manager of Castle & Cooke Honolulu and the company’s director of marketing, in response to its efforts at the past two shows, the company has seen a rise in traffic heading to and from the Asia Pacific region. “Our whole concept of ABACE was to help build it,” Marlow said. “Over the course of the two years that I’ve been here, we have definitely seen an increase. It’s still small numbers and obviously we’d like to see more, but every year I come away from ABACE with at least a couple of new customers and additional traffic.” Due to a steady increase in business over the past year, the location has increased its staffing by 20 percent.
For private aircraft traveling between Asia and the U.S., the company’s Hawaii location (one of three such companies at the airport) makes a good destination for “tech stops,” where the aircraft is refueled, cleaned and serviced after a long flight. In addition, Honolulu offers the benefit of U.S. Customs service, allowing flights to bypass crowded mainland airports such as Los Angeles International and land instead at airports that may not specifically accept international traffic.
“Honolulu is the perfect place to clear [customs] and then go on to the mainland,” said Marlow. “With Gulfstream G650s and other airplanes with long range, we’ve got customers who leave here and their next stop is Florida or Teterboro [New Jersey].” The location specializes in “quick turns” and, according to Marlow, a flight can land, clear customs, be refueled and be back in the air in approximately 45 minutes. For those planning a longer stay, the location has an 18,000-sq-ft hangar capable of sheltering G650-size aircraft.
With its location in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, there are rarely any unexpected aircraft arrivals, and the facility has staff available to greet incoming flights 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with no additional callout fees. In December, the location switched its fuel provider to Epic, a company that has a large presence in Asia, to try to leverage some of those existing relationships with customers.
For Castle & Cooke, attending ABACE is viewed as a strategic move since the company can direct international customers, once they clear customs and immigration at its Hawaii location, to its mainland FBOs such as the one at Van Nuys Airport, located at the Los Angeles-area, which does not have customs service. “The link between Van Nuys and Honolulu has increased many fold,” Marlow told AIN. “We did indeed see a lot of traffic over the past 12 months.”
At Van Nuys, the company recently completed a new 1,500-sq-ft transient passenger lounge and added an additional 38,000-sq-ft hangar, which brings its aircraft storage space up to 187,000 sq ft. “It really has enhanced our service capability over there because we have a much larger facility to accept and handle transient aircraft now,” noted Marlow.