With its FBO heavily damaged in the wake of Hurricane Maria in the fall, Bohlke International Airways (BIA), the lone service provider at St. Croix’s Henry E. Rohlsen Airport, has engaged Colorado-based aviation real estate company Western LLC to design its new multimillion-dollar facility, which will include a 20,000-sq-ft hangar. Groundbreaking is expected over the coming months with an aim of completion in late 2019.
“Hurricane Maria has given us an opportunity to rebuild in a way that furthers our position as the all-around service provider in the Caribbean,” said company president and chief pilot William R. "Billy" Bohlke, the third generation to head the business. "Our new facility will be able to hangar any large-cabin jet, which surrounding islands to-date do not offer. This combined with competitive fuel pricing and our Part 145 repair station will set Bohlke apart. We are optimistic about our future, and that of the Caribbean as a whole."
During construction, the company, which also provides aircraft charter using a Gulfstream G100, an MU-2 and a King Air B200, will continue to operate from the undamaged leased hangar it has occupied since after the storm.
For the company, it was an instance of history repeating itself. In 1989, when Bill Bohlke, Billy's father, took the reins of the family business from his father, who founded the company, the facility was promptly leveled by Hurricane Hugo. As Billy officially took over as president from his father last year, Hurricane Maria gave him a hauntingly similar test of leadership. Both proved resilient, able to avoid layoffs and quickly resume business as usual. Following Maria, the BIA team played a crucial role in getting the airport back online to facilitate hurricane relief flights.