Kissimmee’s Forward March

Following a decade of growth, airport targets international traffic, cargo

“Florida runs a very proactive state aviation office,” says Lloyd. “We’ve been able to build three large hangars; the grants were made available to the FBOs, and they matched the grant funds dollar for dollar.”

A bank of 66 T-hangars, leased by Sheltair Aviation Facilities, was built in 2002 using the same method of funding. Ranger Aviation, aligned with Atlantic Aviation, built its facilities without accessing the state aviation grants. The facilities consist of seven 10,000-square foot hangars including office space, and two 18,000-square foot hangars. The airport is charged with building and maintaining ramp infrastructure while Ranger leases the land and develops the facilities.

Negotiations have begun with one of ISM’s two flight schools to lease FBO property and match state grant funds for construction of a flight school and hangar facility, says Lloyd, and plans for a future Business Air Park are also in the works. The Air Park will consist of ten to 12 aviation development-ready parcels, one to two acres in size, and is expected to be completed in 2011, according to Lloyd.

The next big goal for Kissimmee Gateway is to bring in U.S. Customs and attract international traffic.

“I always have one far-reaching goal that people are looking to me to complete; for my predecessor, it was an ATC tower. My first was getting the ILS system in. Next is to accommodate and attract international traffic,” says Lloyd.

The funding is the tough part, relates Lloyd. Airports are required to fund Customs up front, build traffic, then recover the costs. Kissimmee Gateway doesn’t have the airport revenue to devote to bringing in Customs currently, but a private partnership could speed up the process. Lloyd still considers the initiative a long-range goal because everyday operations and airfield maintenance take priority.

Another long-range plan for Lloyd is to increase the airport’s capacity for air cargo operations. He says he would have a niche market for handling high-end air cargo because Orlando Int’l operates high-volume cargo operations.

“When I look at what a general aviation airport can do, one thing we could do more of is air cargo,” says Lloyd.

Marketing assistance
Lloyd’s predecessor began the airport’s advertising campaign around 1997, when the control tower was constructed. A marketing consultant, who is still with the airport, identified a two-part marketing plan: 1) corporate traffic as a target market; 2) partnership with the local Convention and Visitors Bureau in Kissimmee. The bureau, which collects a hotel bed tax, has a marketing program that has recognized the role the airport plays in bringing people into the area, says Lloyd.

“We get a grant from the Convention and Visitors Bureau for print and web advertising,” says Lloyd. “We also have a generic ad for umbrella marketing; both the airport and the bureau advertise the location of the airport and its capabilities.

“All of our promotional materials are intended to drive people to our website, which has links to all of our airport-based businesses.”

The challenge to marketing the airport in the beginning of the campaign, relates Lloyd, was in making people aware of where Kissimmee is. While most of the convention happenings occur in Orange County, Kissimmee is located in Osceola County, just south of Orlando. “Kissimmee is definitely an Orlando area airport,” says Lloyd. “But we don’t have the word Orlando in our name.
“So we found that the message we needed to get out was to let people know where in Florida Kissimmee is located.”

Thus, the airport’s marketing taglines became ‘touch and go to Orlando’ and ‘closest to the magic of central Florida.”

Kissimmee Gateway Airport is the closest general aviation facility to Walt Disney World, Sea World Adventure Park, UNIVERSAL Orlando, the Orlando-Orange County Convention Center, and just minutes from Central Florida’s major highways.

“Fortunately, the city and county government are interested in the health of the airport,” says Lloyd.

“They are not providing funding, but they are providing positive motivation as well political support.

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