NBAA Convention News

In Little Time, Atlantic has Grown Big Florida Presence

 - October 12, 2018, 9:30 AM
Atlantic Aviation's newest presence in Florida is at Miami Opa-Locka Executive Airport. Last year's Hurricane Irma caused consternation at the time, as the purchase of the location was postponed to assess the possible storm damage to the facility. In the end, those concerns proved to be unwarranted as the FBO suffered negligible impact from the hurricane.

Atlantic Aviation currently has seven FBOs in Florida, which make up a significant portion of the company’s business, but until recently, that wasn’t the case. In 2014, Atlantic was the second largest FBO chain in the U.S., yet the company did not have a single base in the Sunshine State, one of the nation’s hotbeds of business aviation activity. In April that year it made a major splash when it closed on a $230 million deal for the Galaxy Aviation FBO chain. In addition to a location in Colorado, that brought a package of five locations as its first foray into Florida. That initial batch included facilities at Orlando International Airport, Northeast Florida Regional Airport in St. Augustine, Witham Field in Stuart, Palm Beach International, and Boca Raton Airport.

“When you look at the footprint of Atlantic Aviation, at least back prior to the Galaxy deal, the Florida market always stuck out like a sore thumb to us because we had virtually no presence at all in Florida,” said Kurt Schmidt, the service provider’s regional vice president. “It’s very common to have that north-south corridor of customers who are flying from New York to Florida for various reasons, so the Galaxy deal was very big for us and gave us a really strong presence in Florida."

Atlantic (Booth 2244) further consolidated its position later that year when it acquired Showalter Aviation at Orlando Executive Airport, which traditionally hosted the NBAA static display when the organization’s annual convention was in town. With the purchase of the FBO, NBAA’s contract was transferred to Atlantic, which once again is hosting the aircraft display at this year’s show.

A year ago, the Texas-based company was slated to put the final approval on its acquisition of a seventh in-state location, the Orion Jet Center at Miami Opa-Locka Airport, when Hurricane Irma roared ashore. The storm forced a delay in the purchase in order for Atlantic to assess any damage to the FBO. “The Orion folks did a stellar job in securing the facility,” Schmidt told AIN. “We were delighted and lucky the hurricane didn’t have a significant impact on the facility, so it was right after that that we were finally able to close on the deal.”

Last month, Atlantic celebrated its one-year anniversary at the location. One of three FBOs on the field, it offers a modern 20,000-sq-ft terminal with an aircraft arrivals canopy, passenger lounge, a trio of conference rooms, crew lounge, snooze rooms, and showers. It also features more than 200,000 sq ft of newly built hangar space capable of sheltering aircraft up to a Global Express, along with 36,000 sq ft of office and maintenance space.

“Now we span up and down the East Coast of Florida from St. Augustine all the way down to Miami, which is a very nice footprint in the market,” said Schmidt, who added that the addition of Opa-Locka helped open the company to Latin American customers. “The traffic profile in Miami is a little bit different than what we experience in some of the other Florida bases, and that’s one of the reasons it was a very nice addition to the portfolio.”

According to Schmidt, the bottom line is those additions have had an impact on his company’s bottom line. “We had a lot of base activity from the Northeast that we knew were traveling to those areas, but had no exposure to that marketplace.” he explained. “Now we can receive some of those customers who would make that trip on a regular basis.”