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