Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport on Tuesday announced its own fixed-base operator (FBO) that will replace Stevens Aviation in early 2017.
During a ceremony in Stevens Aviation’s terminal at GSP, airport commission chairwoman Minor Shaw told a group of Upstate business and civic leaders the launch of Cerulean Aviation will be “game-changing” for GSP and the region.
The announcement follows the decision by airport commissioners on Sept. 14, 2015, not to renew Stevens Aviation’s 10-year FBO contract, which is set to expire at the end of this year.
“We’re very excited about this opportunity to engage in a new era of service at GSP,” said Dave Edwards, president and CEO of GSP. “Our terminal improvement project will wrap up at the end of this year… This is the fourth leg in the stool for us. It’s a milestone in the evolution of GSP.”
According to the Federal Aviation Administration, an FBO is a commercial business granted the right by the airport to provide aeronautical services, such as fueling, maintenance, rental, storage and flight instruction.
The company’s ownership has changed hands a few times, but Stevens Aviation has been the lone FBO at GSP since the airport opened in 1962, according to GSP commission documents.
Before making their decision, GSP commissioners mulled several options, including renewing Stevens Aviation’s contract, entering into a new FBO contract with another company and partnering with an FBO management company.
In the end, the airport district decided to “exercise its exclusive proprietary right to self-perform” the FBO operation, according to documents.
GSP officials said the self-run FBO could enable the airport to attract more airlines and increase the quality of service to its current carriers and customers.
“We decided to bring (the FBO) in-house,” said Kevin Howell, vice president and chief operating officer of GSP. “We felt that by having direct responsibility of it we could provide a higher level of service and create some efficiencies.”
Howell said GSP plans to hire 30 to 40 new employees for the FBO operation and a cargo service that will operate under the Cerulean Aviation banner.
Shaw said the new FBO’s name is derived from the picturesque Blue Ridge Mountains that are visible from the airport.
Howell said 90 percent of the former Stevens Aviation employees who were offered the opportunity to continue working at GSP chose to do so.
Stevens Aviation’s current setup includes about a 60,000-square-foot terminal and hangar adjacent to an 11,000-foot runway.
The airport plans to construct two new FBO hangars that will total 47,000 square feet, Howell said. Construction of those facilities could begin next summer.
GSP has plans to renovate an existing 45,000-square foot building at Roger Milliken Field that will serve as a maintenance facility for Dayton, Ohio-based PSA Airlines Inc.
County planning documents showed the airport plans to add more fueling capacity near its main terminal.
Leaders in attendance appeared to be happy with the announcement.
Spartanburg businessman Jimmy Gibbs declared the news a “welcomed change at the airport.”
Mark Farris, president and CEO of the Greenville Area Development Corp., said GSP and other smaller airports are important pieces of infrastructure for the region’s economic growth.
He hopes the launch of Cerulean Aviation, completion of the airport’s $125 million main terminal renovation, as well as a new air cargo service operated by Senator International that is expected to start next month, will have a positive impact.
For more information, visit: gspairport.com.