FBO Profile: Bradley Pacific, Gateway to the Hawaiian Islands

 - October 4, 2013, 2:00 AM
Bradley Pacific executive vice president and general manager Shaen Tarter stands on the ramp at the FBO chain's Honolulu facility. Though the stiff trade winds wreak havoc with his hair, they keep the Hawaiian Islands a constant 75 to 85 degrees F year-round. Because it is so temperate, transient aircraft are parked on the ramp at its six Hawaiian FBOs, and only Bradley's Honolulu facility even has a hangar.

Bradley Pacific has become the leading FBO chain in Hawaii, uplifting an astounding one million gallons of jet-A daily to a mix of business jets and airliners. It also has the only Corporate Aircraft Association-preferred FBOs in the state, which puts it in the top echelon of business aviation service facilities.

Bradley Pacific was founded in 1998 and now covers six locations on five Hawaiian Islands–Honolulu International Airport, Oahu; Kahului International Airport, Maui; Lihue Airport, Kauai; Lanai City Airport, Lanai; and Keahole-Kona International Airport and Hilo International Airport in Hawaii (better identified as the “Big Island”). For the past five years the chain has been majority owned by Ross Aviation, which has a growing network of 10 individual FBO brands at 15 locations, including Laredo Aero Center, Miami Executive Aviation and the Santa Fe, Scottsdale and Denver AirCenters.

All of Bradley Pacific’s facilities have 24-hour availability and, in addition to turbine aircraft fueling, provide international and domestic ground handling; customs, immigrations and agriculture (USDA) clearances; secure, on-ramp access; lavatory service; ground power units; concierge services; hotel coordination for passengers and crew; auto rentals; quick turns; limo service; discreet arrivals and departures; and flower lei greeting. Major credit and most aviation fuel cards are accepted for payment.

The Hawaiian FBO chain’s Honolulu facility, its flagship location, is the busiest of its six FBOs since the majority of inbound traffic arriving from outside of the islands first stops at this airport. Bradley Pacific general manager and executive vice president Shaen Tarter told AIN that there are multiple reasons for this. Because Oahu is the most populous of the islands–with nearly one million residents, more than twice those living on the other seven major Hawaiian islands combined–it is also more developed and thus has numerous resort hotels, a convention center, luxury shopping and night clubs, all of which attract business travelers and vacationers alike.

Logistical Requirements

But there are logistical reasons as well, even for aircraft destined to another island. “Because Honolulu has the major ports, fuel is shipped here directly, so it’s less expensive. Fuel at our other locations has to be shipped from Honolulu, adding cost, so they’ll come here to fuel up,” Tarter said. Jet-A prices at Honolulu are comparable with those at Van Nuys, he added.

“In addition, customs, immigration and agriculture services on the other islands aren’t available 24 hours a day as they are here in Honolulu,” Tarter said. “So aircraft might not have any other option but to clear customs in Honolulu before flying onward.” In fact, customs at Kahului, Kona and Hilo is subject to officer availability, while Lihue requires that officers be flown from Honolulu to clear aircraft, he noted.

All aircraft–inbound and outbound–also have to clear agriculture to ensure that harmful insects aren’t introduced to or exported from Hawaii. To ease this process, Bradley Pacific recommends that any pineapples and/or radishes on arriving aircraft are consumed before landing. Only fruits and vegetables from an authorized caterer can be carried aboard aircraft that are leaving Hawaii. A U.S. agriculture inspector will be planeside one hour before domestic departures to check all catering and bags, and failure to comply with this inspection will result in stiff penalties, the FBO chain warns on its website.

Bradley Pacific’s facilities are smaller than those at typical FBOs in the continental U.S., ranging from 400 sq ft in Lanai to 4,000 in Kona, but Tarter said this is by design. “From the West Coast it’s a five or six-hour flight to Hawaii, not to mention we’re a vacation destination,” he said. “So business aircraft passengers don’t fly here in the morning, have a two-hour meeting with a client while the crew sits waiting at the FBO and then fly out later that day. Instead, they wrap a vacation around meetings. So the crew literally just breezes through our facility, and passengers might not even step foot inside if they’re met planeside by a limo. It’s more about providing excellent service than the size of our facilities.”

In addition, only Bradley Pacific’s Honolulu FBO has a hangar, and a relatively modest 11,000-sq-ft one at that. Because the trade winds keep Hawaii at a fairly constant temperature between 75 and 85 degrees F year-round, aircraft can be stored comfortably on the ramp, Tarter noted. Business aircraft traffic is fairly steady year-round, he said, and there is ample ramp space at all of the Bradley Pacific facilities. Space can become more of a premium during the peak period over the Christmas and New Year holidays, according to Tarter.

Since Hawaii is rarely a last-minute destination for business aircraft passengers, Bradley Pacific typically knows weeks or even months ahead of time what aircraft will be flying to or from its FBOs, he told AIN. “This allows us to make sure we’re appropriately staffed to ensure exceptional customer service when they arrive and depart. We go to great lengths to make sure our customers are well taken care of,” Tarter concluded.