Sky Harbour Group, which plans to establish a national network of privately owned aircraft hangar complexes, will open its first location on September 1 at the Houston-area's Sugar Land Regional Airport (SGR).
The facility, located at the northeast corner of the field off Taxiway Charlie, consists of 13 individually leased NFPA Group 3 modular hangars, including four 16,000-sq-ft structures capable of sheltering the latest ultra-long-range business jets, four 9,000-sq-ft hangars, and five 8,000-sq-ft hangars, all with 28-foot-high doors. According to the company, as of mid-August, the complex was 50 percent leased. More than a hangar, the company aims to give operators a base for their flight departments.
“Essentially what we’ve done is taken a prototype approach to hangar construction,” said company president and co-founder Tal Keinan. “We were looking to offer the most efficient—from a technical, functional standpoint—facility you can have if you are basing your aircraft somewhere.” Toward that end, the hangars come equipped with compressed air as well as 480-, 240- and 120-volt electrical outlets and drainage to handle any aircraft-related tasks the tenant wishes. “If you need to put the plane up on jacks and fold the gears, you put the plane up on jacks,” Keinan told AIN. “There’s no repositioning in the hangar, or need in some cases for people to fly to another airport to get some hangar space to do routine maintenance.”
The hangars are offered on a yearly lease basis, and Sky Harbour includes its own line crew and ground service equipment, which can be requested through an app or in person, in addition to the benefits and security of being able to drive up to your own private hangar. “We’re a premium product, we do charge much more than an FBO would charge for hangar space,” acknowledged Keinan. “I don’t think it is the right solution for everybody and it's not something I would even recommend to every aircraft owner, but there are certain profiles of aircraft owner for whom this makes a lot of sense.” He added, “I think there are a lot of benefits to driving straight into your hangar, park the car, load baggage, load passengers, push out, and go.”
Each hangar unit includes a ramp area for aircraft startup and shutdown in front of the hangar doors, the same size as the actual hangar. Car parking is offered within the climate-controlled hangar, with hydraulic stacking lifts available to accommodate multiple vehicles. The adjoining suite includes an office or lounge with kitchen, bathrooms with showers for crew and executives/owners, and storage area. Each unit is assigned covered outdoor parking as well. While the office suite is provided as a basic high-end package, a degree of customization is available.
According to Keinan, the opening at SGR was delayed due to Covid complications, which pushed it back to September, coincidentally the same time the company will break ground on two other hangar complexes, one at Miami Opa-Locka Executive Airport in Florida and the other at Tennessee’s Nashville International Airport.
“One of the advantages of this prototype design is the permitting process is typically quicker than a from-scratch design,” said Keinan, noting that the metal structures are built from company-designed components that are mass-produced and assembled in the field. “The fastest these things can go up is eight months, I’d love to say the slowest is 12 months. We’re kind of banking on a middle of the road 10-months build.” That would slate the opening of the two new hangar complexes in Summer 2021.
At each location, Sky Harbour has secured long-term leases, similar to those of FBOs. Also like FBOs, in most cases, the hangars could revert to airport ownership at the end of the leases. While the company provides virtually all ground services aside from fueling, it works to arrange fueling discounts for its tenants through FBOs on the field in a mutually beneficial situation. “They’re pumping much more fuel, but it's our $40 to $50 million that are going into development, not theirs," said Keinan. “The margin may be a little bit lower, but its free volume, they don’t have to pay for that volume.”
The company is currently concluding leases with several other airports, all in the U.S. “Frankly, 60 percent of the world is right here for business aviation, so we think that’s the right focus,” explained Keinan. “There’s certainly an opportunity in Europe, we know it, we see it, but we’ve chosen for the time being to remain focused here.”