AvCenter at Wilmington
Growing network focuses on core FBO services, just-in-time cargo at its Delaware location
By John F. Infanger, Editorial Director
WILMINGTON, DE — AMPORTS purchased the aviation division of Johnson Controls in 1997, and has since expanded its FBO AvCenter network to five locations, having added the former Heritage Flight at Burlington, VT, this summer. At the New Castle County Airport here, a previous acquisition is today a remodeled, growing fixed base operation that’s moving in synch with the governing authority to capture new business. And, it’s having success as the handler of just-in-time inventories for nearby automotive plants.
The FBO AvCenter at Wilmington is the former
Dawn Aeronautics, an FBO with the primary business of flight training
when AMPORTS acquired it in 1999. Since that time, the FBO AvCenter has
worked at refining the just-in-time inventory service Dawn had started,
which includes owning a fleet of trucks. The key growth areas at Wilmington,
according to John I. Harden, AMPORTS vice president of aviation business
development, are corporate fuel sales and possible commercial airline
The New Castle County Airport, operated by the Delaware River & Bay Authority (DRBA), is also home to Dassault Falcon Jet’s maintenance and FBO center (former Atlantic Aviation), and a third FBO, Aero-Taxi, Inc.. "It’s a competitive environment," says Harden.
The DRBA’s investment in the infrastructure since acquisition of the airport in 1995 has resulted in a modern airfield, a soon to be commissioned control tower which it funded, and development of a corporate hangar campus. It is the latter which is the growth target for both the DRBA, which ties corporate airport growth with other economic development initiatives, and the FBO AvCenter.
Explains Harden, "If you look at what’s happened in the past five to six years since the DRBA has stepped in, you’ve seen a three-fold growth in corporate jets that are based here. I believe they have 72 today.
"To top that off, they’ve had a very clear signal to the user community as well as to the businesses that we want this place to be a going concern. They’ve sunk their own money into the airport to make it happen. They’ve put in eight new hangars; they have spots for two BBJs. It’s a great success story."
With the tax laws in Delaware such that they encourage companies to incorporate here, a regular flow of corporate management flies in for board and other business meetings. "So there’s a large transient following, but there’s also evidence that this place has grown in its base population," says Harden.
At the FBO AvCenter at Wilmington, the company serves automakers by being a key link in delivery of just-in-time inventories at local Chrysler and Saturn plants.
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