“We like growth and the core retail fueling and core line service and hangarage business; that’s what we look to first and foremost, comments Levesque. “In terms of whether the airport is a Part 139 airport, or has commercial service, or different types of approaches, runway lengths, or even multiple FBOs … that’s all kind of situational. Each one is different and unique and has to be analyzed as such.
“Obviously, the longer term the lease, the more investment as an operator we can afford to make and realize over time. But we understand the airport’s point-of-view as well; it’s an interdependent relationship.”
In terms of services, Hawthorne will do as demand warrants. All FBOs are local, to some extent, relates Levesque. “At MacArthur, we have our charter fleet, which we can expand nationally, and are … we recently added three aircraft. We also have a fairly good sized maintenance department at Islip, which is a Part 145 Repair Station. We are an Embraer service center, and we have a lot of other service designations as well, especially in avionics … not only for our fleet, but for the demand that’s in the local area.”
The New Orleans operation is a line-centric FBO, but the company has the capability to bring other lines of business in.
“The things we probably don’t want to be in, because they require a certain scale, is flight training and engine overhaul,” explains Levesque. “Those are kind of the two extremes on either end that we don’t see ourselves getting in to.”
With regard to hangaring aircraft, Levesque says the company is fortunate to be full at both locations. In Long Island, Hawthorne is building a new 30,000-square foot hangar slated to open in 2013. The new facility will likely be BBJ (Boeing Business Jet) capable.
When it comes to fuel sourcing and brand preference, Hawthorne will be a Shell dealer at most locations. At New Orleans, the FBO provides Avfuel due to an agreement that was already in place.
As for fuel pricing, Levesque says it’s a dynamic that is really driven by the market. “For based customers, we obviously try to put together a value package that has pricing interaction between the hangar side and rent,” he comments. “We certainly keep an eye on prices daily, but subject to extreme market conditions, we typically adjust prices weekly, if that.”
Regarding aircraft activity, “I think we have been fortunate to be a little above the industry averages that we’ve seen,” says Levesque. “I think we see what the rest of the industry does: it’s a single digit increase year-over-year for the last few years.
“The small and mid-sized jet activity hasn’t recovered as much as large cabins have, and that’s consistent with general industry trends.”
On the charter side, Levesque says Hawthorne is typically a buyer’s agent, meaning, if someone wants to purchase an aircraft that they would like Hawthorne to manage, the company helps them in the pre-buy and purchase experience.
Currently, Hawthorne manages some 23 turbine engine aircraft. The business has been more cyclical than fuel, which historically is consistent with how charter tends to be, explains Levesque. “We’ve seen a lot more demand in the second half of this year than the first, which we think bodes well.
“It’s a great time. There is some economic uncertainty, but we like the long-term trends of the industry.”
ExcelAire is a provider of general aviation services at MacArthur Airport and has a strong market share of fuel uplift and 20 large cabin aircraft under management
The FBO is a premier provider of general aviation services at New Orleans Lakefront Airport, with over 50,000 square feet of hangar space which can accommodate aircraft up to the size of a...