First Im­pres­sions

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Hard­headed eco­nom­ics drives the rush to con­struct new busi­ness avi­a­tion ter­mi­nals. “Start­ing back in the early 1990s there was a de­sire by lo­cal au­thor­i­ties, by air­ports, to create a min­i­mum stan­dard for FBO fa­cil­i­ties,”says Obitts.

Ter­mi­nals, in essence,“would be a show­case, a first im­pres­sion for the busi­ness trav­eler com­ing into the com­mu­nity,” a lens through which busi­ness guests, like ven­ture cap­i­tal­ists and com­pa­nies on the look­out for new eco­nomic op­por­tu­ni­ties, view the city. Air­ports“want to make a good im­pres­sion to make sure they come back,”he says.

FBOs serve two au­di­ences: pas­sen­gers and pi­lots. Fa­cil­i­ties have got to ap­peal to both. The pas­sen­gers’cor­po­ra­tion may be pay­ing the ul­ti­mate bill, but it’s pi­lots who get them there and back safely.

“I’ve heard of FBOs spend­ing up to $30 mil­lion for their fa­cil­i­ties,”says An­drew Perry, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Hous­ton Ex­ec­u­tive Air­port, a biz­jet mecca for the Bayou City lo­cated 28 miles west of down­town. “They’re spend­ing that kind of money to ser­vice pas­sen­gers and crews.”

Hen­rick­sen Jet Cen­ter is lo­cated at Hous­ton Ex­ec­u­tive. It makes a prac­tice of pam­per­ing pi­lots.“We have two crew snooze rooms,”says Perry.“That way they don’t have to go to the ho­tel to take a nap.”

Archri­val Dal­las has an FBO with“three crew sleep rooms with full-size re­stroom and shower,”says Cat Clay, man­ager of sales and mar­ket­ing for Love Field’s Busi­nessJetCen­ter. Throw in a Golden Tee golf ma­chine, healthy snacks and a year-round as­sort­ment of ice cream for good mea­sure.

If pi­lots are pam­pered, so too are pas­sen­gers. Perks at the Love Field cen­ter in­clude three ex­ec­u­tive con­fer­ence rooms and a spe­cial events room. Clay says there’s even a bucket of ca­nine treats and an ap­pro­pri­ate grass patch for furry four­legged fliers.

But pas­sen­ger pam­per­ing can go well beyond C-suite con­fer­ence rooms and doggy com­fort sta­tions.“I had an air­craft call us in­bound one time,”re­mem­bers Betsy Wines, vice pres­i­dent of cus­tomer ser­vice and hu­man re­sources at Merid­ian’s Teter­boro, NJ, FBO.“The boss had for­got­ten his ten­nis stuff. He wanted to play ten­nis while he was here.”The in­bound busi­ness

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