During Donald Staszko’s 42 years and 30,000 hours of flying and 32 years with American Airlines, he wisely built a real estate and commercial property development business. Although Staszko retired from the airline in December 2005 before the then-age 60 rule would have forced his departure, he had also made a well timed investment at Plymouth Municipal Airport in Massachusetts. He could have spent a few more years at the airline, he said, “but it’s no fun. Corporate aviation is where to be.”
Plymouth Airport is located south of Boston and north of Cape Cod in an area that is growing as people move away from crowded metropolitan communities. When Staszko arrived in 1999 there was already an established maintenance provider, a large flight school, an active glider operation, a helicopter operator and plenty of private hangars.
What the airport didn’t have was an FBO. Sure, there was the administration building with a surprisingly good restaurant on the second floor and friendly town employees manning the fuel truck. But there was not much in the way of comfortable facilities, just a sparsely furnished lounge area and no good alternative to the public ramp for parking an expensive airplane.
Five years ago, Staszko made his first big move at Plymouth, building a 16,000-sq-ft hangar to house his maintenance company, Professional Pilots Aircraft Maintenance, which is now an FAA-approved Part 145 repair station. He followed this with another 22,000-sq-ft hangar and more recently completed a 6,000-sq-ft FBO terminal flanked by the two hangars.
After Staszko developed the main-tenance business, he saw the opportunity to bring jet services to Plymouth and added aircraft management then charter services under the Professional Airways banner. He and his son Ryan both fly the company’s King Air 300, Beechjets/ Hawker 400XPs, Hawker 850XP and Hawker 1000. Professional Airways is scheduled to take delivery of two Hawker 4000s this year.
An even better opportunity then came along, to build Plymouth’s first real FBO. There was, however, a problem. A major constraint for any FBO developer at Plymouth is that the town funds the airport’s operation via fuel sales, and the town wasn’t about to give up the fuel concession. That didn’t stop Staszko, and when he decided to build Professional Jet Center to complement the maintenance and charter/management operations, he negotiated a deal where the airport would service his customers with Avfuel-brand fuel but allow the FBO to bill the customers directly.
Staszko and son opened Professional Jet Center last October, and the timing turned out to be perfect. “Things happened after I got it built that made more sense,” he said. “The Plymouth airport commission is pro-aviation,” he added, “and the cost to base and maintain an airplane at Plymouth is 30 to 40 percent cheaper than at any other airport around.”
A huge development near Plymouth Airport is expected to be approved soon, the $282 million Plymouth Rock Studios film and television production campus. The studio property is a short drive from Plymouth Airport and will include 14 sound stages, a 10-acre backlot and two 100,000-sq-ft office buildings.
The Mashpee Wampanoag tribe’s plans to build a casino in Middleboro, 15 minutes from the airport, could bring more business to Plymouth Airport, according to Staszko.
The Plymouth area is also home to a great variety of golf courses. For pilots who don’t have much extra time, the Village Links Golf Club is across the street from the airport and features a surprisingly challenging fast-paced par 54 links-style layout.
Professional Jet Center features granite flooring throughout, cherry-inlaid panel-ing, modern lavatories with hygienic (touchless) fixtures, passenger and pilot lounges, a quiet room with freshly made beds, flat-screen tvs, conference room, flight planning/weather office, a kitchen-ette/catering area, concierge services, Enterprise rental cars and Chevrolet Tahoe crew cars.
Staszko isn’t worried about the big FBO chains pestering him to sell his FBO or the charter/management and main-tenance divisions. “I don’t sell anything. I own a lot of real estate and shopping centers, and I’ve had them for the last 25 to 30 years. I’ll be dead when something’s sold,” he said.