Airport mixes military, airline and GA

 - October 4, 2007, 6:34 AM

Linemen at Pride Flight Services in Alexandria, La., need to know their stuff. The sole FBO at England Alexandria International Airport (AEX), Pride has as diverse an overall clientele as any FBO in the country, serving major airlines, regionals, military aircraft and a wide range of general aviation traffic. A Conoco-Phillips Aviation Performance Center, Pride handles 30 commercial flights per day, pledging that its airline customers’ aircraft will be fueled and back in the sky within 20 minutes of engine shutdown. C-5A military transports and chartered troop transports are given similar priority handling, and Pride accommodates an average of about two dozen such customers per day.

Still, the FBO also serves some 50 general aviation flights daily, with 95 percent being transient customers. The airport has invested $18.5 million in improvements over the past decade, and a new $30 million terminal is scheduled for completion by year-end. For now, Pride accounts for some 15,000 sq ft of administrative/terminal space and a pair of 30,000-sq-ft hangars.

But the heart of the operation is a pulsing fuel farm, consisting of a 217,000-gallon jet-A tank and a 30,000-gallon 100LL tank. Pride fields four 8,000-gallon tractor-trailer fuel trucks to handle the large-aircraft fueling needs of military and military-charter aircraft. If need be, Pride can sustain an hourly fuel flow of 18,000 gallons per hour.

That capability was put to the test a little over a year ago as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. As the closest airport capable of handling the demand, AEX was designated the prime support facility for the Army’s Eastern Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, La., and Iraq-bound troops swarmed through in a daisy chain of transports. As a result, in April last year Pride pumped a record 450,000 gallons of fuel.