Baker Aviation Adds to Charter Fleet as Demand Rises

 - June 3, 2021, 12:14 PM
Baker Aviation's charter fleet includes six Citation Xs, which were extremely popular among its clients during the height of the pandemic. (Photo: Baker Aviation)

Baker Aviation is adding two Citation Xs and a Beechcraft King Air 350 that will bring the number of aircraft in its charter fleet to 14, president Stan Baker III told AIN on June 3. Two of the airplanes are in its managed aircraft program, while one of the Citation Xs is company-owned. “We’re trying to build the fleet so it has commonality,” Baker explained. “King Air 350s, Citation Xs, things like that where we can be a little more versatile with our crewing. It doesn’t help to have 10 different types of aircraft.”

The company, which is based at Fort Worth Meacham International Airport is looking to add more charter aircraft, specifically the Citation X, Baker said. “The X program for us has been incredibly effective,” he said. “They’ve been very reliable. Our clients absolutely love them.”

The addition of aircraft is a reflection of Baker’s charter business, which started out robustly in the first two months of 2020, then went largely dormant for the next couple of months because of the Covid-19 pandemic, only to bounce back beginning last June. “What we saw come back first was the super-mid category, which is the Citation X,” Baker said. He added that demand for light jet and turboprop flying rebounded in this year’s first quarter.

“So far, if you look at a snapshot of July last year to where we are right now, we’ve set several months of record sales in charter—like big-time records,” he added. “We’re talking 20, 30 percent more than we’d ever seen in those months prior.”

But charter isn’t the only part of Baker’s business that’s on the upswing. So is its MRO business, which is “extremely busy right now,” he said. In 2019, the company undertook an effort to increase MRO services with a focus on King Airs, and in so doing became a dealer for several King Air aftermarket providers, including Raisbeck, BLR Aerospace, and Blackhawk.

The company has a number of King Air upgrade projects in the works. “I’ve always been a huge proponent of the King Air airframe,” Baker said. “I love King Airs. I’ve flown just about every iteration and model of them and owned almost all of them as well.”

Also, with the addition of Citation Xs to its charter fleet—bringing the total of that type to six—“we’ve become pretty much Citation X experts and are really starting to see some outside interest from people who bring aircraft here for any sort of maintenance services,” Baker said. Overall, 90 percent of Baker Aviation’s maintenance activity is on Textron Aviation aircraft—Cessna, Beechcraft, and Hawker—he added.

The 66,000-sq-ft of space provided by two hangars that Baker moved into at Meacham in 2020 couldn’t have come at a better time. “Now that we have this influx of new aircraft and new managed clients, we needed the space,” Baker said. “And we’ve actually already filled pretty much all of our [managed] hangar right now. We’re at capacity.”

Texas Jet, the FBO at Meacham and Baker Aviation’s partner on the new hangars, is now planning to build a third one that will provide overflow for Baker, he said. “They expect that to be finished here probably in about three or four months.”