When terrorists plunged their hijacked airliners into the twin towers of New York’s World Trade Center and the Pentagon last month, it had an immediate effect on business aircraft owners and operators, and will likely have a profound influence for years to come.
Barnes Municipal Airport
“You have to work at it every day. The changes don’t come in waves, but in tiny increments,” Philippe Crevier said about the FBO business. He spoke to AIN on his cellphone from his family’s vacation house.
Guardian Jet Center, an FBO and Avfuel dealer at Ontario International Airport, Calif., last month opened a 22,000-sq-ft hangar and adjoining 2,000-sq-ft office space. The company, which opened in November 2002, now plans to build a new executive terminal in between the new hangar and an original hangar. Guardian Jet Center is also home of Guardian Air Services, the company’s charter operation, and other aircraft services.
Chicago-area FBO and maintenance/avionics company J.A. Air Center is building a 108,000-sq-ft facility at Aurora Municipal Airport. The company also operates an FBO at DeKalb Taylor Municipal Airport. The $20 million Aurora facility includes more than 60,000 sq ft of clear-span hangar space and 50,000 sq ft of office space.
The ExecuJet Aviation FBO at Zurich Kloten Airport has installed a WLAN high-speed communications connection for passenger and crew use. Also new is a vending machine selling snacks and drinks, giving visitors choices beyond the complimentary coffee and mineral water.
Next month TAG Aviation is due to complete construction of a new terminal at Farnborough Airport. The 50,000-sq-ft building at the London-area airport will include an operations center, passenger lounge and offices.
The newest FBO building at Dallas Love Field Airport is six years old but looks younger. Located on the northeast corner of the airport close to the intersection of Runways 13 and 18L, Business Jet Center is a Texas-size facility, with a three-story FBO terminal on a 24-acre property that includes 178,000 sq ft of hangar, FBO and office space.
The value of an FBO to an aircraft operator can be difficult to measure. There’s a temptation among pilots on the road to consider an FBO the equivalent of the corner gas station–the lower the price per gallon, the better.
Under terms of an agreement signed by Raytheon Aircraft Services and Midlantic Jet Aviation, Raytheon Aircraft will sell its Atlantic City, N.J. facility. “We have tried over many years to make the Atlantic City business financially viable but, regrettably, we have not been successful,” said Doug Brantner, v-p of Raytheon Aircraft Services.
The state of the aircraft service industry eight months after September 11 can best be described as guardedly optimistic. Thanks largely to the success and publicity of fractional programs, the public has never been more aware of the benefits of business and personal aviation. At the same time, airlines have proven themselves less and less capable of meeting the travel needs of top-level executives and so-called “high net worth” individuals.
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