FBO Profile: Northeast Air

 - February 17, 2018, 5:10 AM
Following a major two-year renovation, Northeast Air, a presence at Maine's Portland International Jetport for the past 49 years, now offers a terminal with panoramic views of its expansive ramp.

It’s been a good winter for deicing services up in Maine. Northeast Air, one of two service providers at Portland International Jetport (PWM), and the first FBO in the country to switch to 100 percent recycled Type I deicing fluid (see article on page page xx), reported that December was especially busy. The company, which has held the airport deicing contract since 2000, noted that for the month it saw double the expected requests.

Northeast Air was founded at PWM in 1969, by WWII aviator Henry Laughlin Jr., and the second generation is now leading it, while the third is readying. The Air Elite FBO Network member recently completed a two-year, $3.5 million renovation and expansion of its 20-year-old terminal, which doubled its space to 8,000 sq ft. The project also added 50 spaces in the parking lot. The glass-sheathed, two-story atrium offers panoramic ramp views, and the location offers a full slate of amenities including a fitness center, pilot lounge, flight-planning area, a pair of snooze rooms, shower facilities, 16-seat conference room, full kitchen, crew car, linen and dishwashing service, freshly baked cookies, and a porte cochere on the land side for the loading and unloading of passengers in inclement weather. Onsite car rental is available through Hertz, Avis, and Enterprise.

“We’re the biggest airport in the state of Maine,” noted Mark Goodwin, company vice president and general manager of the FBO, adding PWM is also the busiest. “We kind of consider ourselves the gateway of Maine when it comes to aviation.” Of that business, Northeast claims the lion’s share, handling approximately 14,900 airline fuelings and 3,500 general aviation operations a year. That translates to approximately a million gallons of fuel pumped by the Phillips-66 branded location for GA annually, while the airlines draw another approximately 10 million gallons. The location, which is open daily from 4:30 a.m. until midnight with after hours call-out available, maintains a fuel tank farm that holds 62,000 gallons of jet-A (with 12,000 dedicated to GA use) and 20,000 gallons of avgas. It is served by eight jet-A tankers and a lone 750-gallon avgas truck, operated by the company’s NATA Safety 1st trained line service team. The facility also offers self-serve for its avgas customers.

Customs is available with advance notice, through a facility on the other side of the field, and the FBO can meet arrivals there for quick turns.

The facility, which occupies 23 acres on the field, currently has nearly 35,000 sq ft of space in its heated hangars. They are home to six turbine-powered aircraft ranging from an MU-2 to a Falcon 900, and can accommodate anything up to a regional jet. The company broke ground on a new 9,600-sq-ft hangar last fall, which it expects to be completed in May. It also operates a Part 145 repair station and performs major inspections and maintenance activities such as wing and engine removals and replacement.

According to Goodwin, the FBO serves local industries such as the General Dynamics-owned Bath Iron Works shipyard, and the city’s based insurance and law firms year-round. Its peak activity however, comes in the summer, as swarms of tourists descend on Maine’s rugged, unspoiled scenery.

The area is home to numerous youth camps, and the airport sees three peaks during the summer, according to Goodwin; one when the campers are dropped off in June, midsummer when families return for visiting weekends, and then at the end of the summer when it’s time for the campers to return home. During those periods, the FBO can handle 100 aircraft a day. That activity allows the business to bookend the flow of its year, with the busy winter deicing period. Indeed, the FBO’s staff swells by 20 workers in the winter to handle the deicing load.  

Goodwin, who has been with the company since 1979, noted return clients make up a large portion of its business. “We do the same thing everybody else does, but we do it with a New England flair,” he told AIN. “We strive to provide a delightful customer service, that’s really in our core values.”