The Stephens Group May Buy Omni Air at Little Rock

 - April 17, 2007, 12:25 PM

The Stephens Group, parent company of Little Rock-based investment banker Stephens, Inc., is considering getting into the aviation business and Omni Air of Little Rock might be the opening move. Stephens plans to purchase the assets of the Little Rock National Airport-based FBO and disclosed amount and expects to expand the Omni operation to create a “first class” facility. The expansion would include more hangars, an upgraded lobby and other amenities. To make the operation economically viable, Stephens officials said they would seek some concessions from the Little Rock Municipal Airport Commission, which oversees the airport’s operations. Among the concessions expected: an extension of the Omni lease, which expires in 2022, for another 30 years; options on 16 adjoining acres the airport owns or will acquire; and grading, paving and leveling of the property in preparation for the planned improvements. The proposal for concessions was submitted to the commission last Wednesday. The move by Stephens creates an interesting situation at the airport, where the Little Rock Business Aviation Association has for the past couple of years attempted to lure another FBO to complete with Central Flying Service. At the same time, Stephens’ flight department is a tenant of Central. TAC Air had been negotiating with airport officials at Little Rock for about 18 months in an effort to expand its FBO chain. The Texarkana, Texas-based company pulled out of talks earlier this year.