FWA to build new facility for private aircraft

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – The Fort Wayne Airport Authority is building a new terminal to be used by private jets. But the company in charge of the current facility has concerns with the plan.

For the average traveler, the Fixed Base Operator (FBO) is a little-known aspect of the Fort Wayne International Airport. Atlantic Aviation is the current FBO.  It’s in charge of fuel and maintenance for all aircraft.  Atlantic also has its own terminal for private jets, frequently used for business.

“We’re the conduit they go through to access the city of Fort Wayne from their jets or their aircraft,” explained Jonathan Jones, general manager for Atlantic Aviation Fort Wayne.

The FBO is currently located just northwest of the airport’s main terminal.  But the Airport Authority is moving it further south and west, planning to spend between $3.5 million to $4.5 million.

“[The Airport Authority] has been setting funds aside to construct the facility. So we have those funds in the bank with anticipation of building this building already,” said Scott Hinderman, executive director of Fort Wayne airports.  “18 to 19 percent of our revenue is from taxation.  Everything else is from money earned.”

15 Finds Out has discovered the new FBO could be the beginning of major changes toward an expanding airport.

“We are projecting to where at some point, we’re going to have to add at least one, if not two more gates at the end of the building.  That would have to go in the direction of  where the FBO is,” Hinderman said.  “In order to do so, the existing FBO building has to be relocated.”

The Airport Authority’s decision shoots down Atlantic Aviation’s private proposal.  Atlantic’s leasing agreement dating back to the mid 1980’s is up in 2016.  So it proposed spending between $4 million and $5 million of its own money to build the new FBO, in exchange for what it said would be a new 30-year leasing agreement.

“That to us reduces the burden on public funds, it maximizes return for the airport, it maximizes the service, and it really puts Fort Wayne on a map,” said Clive Lowe, senior vice president for Atlantic Aviation, said to be the largest FBO in the country.  “It gives Fort Wayne and Atlantic Fort Wayne a worldwide marketing presence at trade shows, aviation trade shows around the world.”

Hinderman said that lease would be too long.

“The industry changes so quickly and in a 40 year period, things could be substantially different than today in aviation,” he said.

Still, Lowe thinks the move to use public instead of private money goes against the norm for airports.

“In terms of promoting the community and providing the best that is out there, we believe that the established model is the best way to do that,” Lowe said.

The airport’s board of directors selected the Hagerman Group on Monday afternoon to design and build the new FBO facility.

Tune into NewsChannel 15 Tuesday at 5:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. as 15 Finds Out continues its coverage on the new facility.  Hear how the name behind the fuel and private jet services could soon change with a leasing agreement ending.

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