Florida Airports and FBOs Slowly Shake Off Irma's Effects

 - September 11, 2017, 12:49 PM
The calm after the storm. Sheltair's FBO at Fort Lauderdale International Airport basks under clear skies on Monday afternoon, less than 24 hours after the region was hit by Hurricane Irma. While the airport and the surrounding area is still operating on back up power, the FBO suffered little damage, and Sheltair expects to reopen to business aviation customers and resume fueling operations at 4am Tuesday morning.

As Hurricane Irma diminished to a tropical storm this morning, many in Florida are no doubt breathing a sigh of relief. But the storm did have a strong impact on general aviation, particularly among airports and FBOs on the western side of the state. With millions left without power, along with localized flooding and curfews in some cities hindering the arrival of staffers, the business aviation industry was groggily rising back to its feet as of Monday morning.

Atlantic Aviation reported its facilities at Boca Raton (BCT), Palm Beach International (PBI) and Stuart’s Witham Field (SUA) were attempting to power up their generators. At Boca, the company noted damage to one of its hangar doors, while Hangar A at its PBI location suffered significant damage. That airport is expected to resume commercial operations later this afternoon. The Texas-based company is still attempting to contact its bases at Orlando International and Orlando Executive Airports. The latest report from Northeast Florida Regional Airport in St. Augustine shows it is still feeling the effects of the storm. In Naples, which bore the brunt of the impact when Irma came onshore, all attempts to contact hard-hit Naples Municipal Airport and its two FBOs were unsuccessful as of publication time, as were attempts to reach Jacksonville Executive Airport, which is currently facing the diminished wrath of the storm.

Orlando-based Signature Flight Support’s headquarters were pre-emptively closed on Friday and Monday, but its website showed that all of its Caribbean locations had reopened as of Monday with the exception of Signature affiliate Arrindell Aviation on St. Maarten, which took a direct hit from the then-powerful storm. The company reported most of its Florida locations as closed during the storm, with tentative opening dates listed for major destinations such as Miami, Ft Lauderdale, Palm Beach and Tampa. Sheltair, which operates 11 FBOs throughout the state reported no major damage at any of them, aside from roof leaks and water incursion in some of its hangars. The company is working around power outages and staffing shortages to be open when their respective airport authorities allow, and is currently providing support to emergency responders only, at some locations. It is projecting openings tomorrow at Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Tampa and Ocala, and a reopening of its Savannah, Ga. location on Wednesday. The company noted its facility at Panama City’s Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport remained open during the entirety of the storm, and has fuel available.

Miami International Airport will remain closed Monday after sustaining “significant water damage throughout,” according to the airport authority. A damage assessment will be conducted to see if the airport can resume operations on Tuesday. At Miami’s Opa-Locka Executive Airport, Fontainebleau Aviation reported it is running off of generators, and suffered little damage. It is looking to increase staffing numbers as it awaits the reopening of the airport to public use, possibly later this evening. International Flight Center, a service provider at Miami Executive Airport was only just assessing the damage to its facility as of Monday afternoon, but was anticipating opening on Tuesday. Page Field Airport in Fort Myers was without power and remained closed on Monday morning as teams assessed the damage to the facility. With any location in the region, operators should contact their destination ahead of time to ensure the availability of fuel.