Silverhawk targets transient jet market

 - January 25, 2008, 11:11 AM

Don Allen, owner of Silverhawk Aviation, would like pilots to be thinking of Lincoln Municipal Airport (LNK), Neb., as a mid-continent refueling stop. As an area businessman and pilot, he saw business potential in merging Capitol Aviation and Silverhawk, two of the three FBOs at LNK (Duncan Aviation is the competition). A little more than a year ago, that’s just what he did. Allen said, “It struck me that I could use the best of both and turn the resulting company into a profitable, post-retirement business for my family. Since the merger, we’ve really been
able to take advantage of everything both FBOs had offered.”

Retaining the Silverhawk name, the company still realizes most of its profits from its charter segment (15 aircraft, 20 pilots), but Allen and Silverhawk v-p Tony Mateer expect that to change. Allen said, “We are on target to have one of our best years ever on the fuel sales side, and we expect that it will soon surpass our charter aircraft sales.” Allen expects fuel sales to double in the next few years.

Located close to the center of the U.S., Silverhawk would like to become the FBO of choice for aircraft needing a mid-continent stop en route to either coast. With three runways (Runway 17R/35L is 12,900 feet long with ILS approaches at both ends), Lincoln is said to be a good alternative to more crowded locations such as Omaha, Neb., or Kansas City. Mateer said, “We want to be the mid-continent destination for transient jet traffic.” Silverhawk currently sees about 70 percent of its business from transients.

To help realize his goal, Mateer started a direct-marketing campaign aimed squarely at charter companies’ and corporate flight departments’ dispatchers. He said, “We like to ask what it would take to get their business and then do our utmost to provide it. If we can convince someone to use us just once, we know they’ll be back.”

Silverhawk’s line crew includes 22 technicians and six customer-service representatives. Short turnarounds (less than 15 minutes) are a specialty. For longer stays, the CSRs can arrange hotel reservations, courtesy cars, rental cars and catering. Silverhawk is also a certified repair station specializing in King Airs, Citations and Hawkers. It also has an avionics shop, an aircraft sales department and a flight school. The FBO has 96 T-hangars and an acre of ramp space for transient quick-turn parking.