Duluth Int'l Airport's Fixed Base Operator Unveils Plans

Don Monaco, who was formally introduced Thursday as Duluth International Airport's new fixed base operator, wasted little time announcing new plans.

The Chicago-area businessman purchased North Country Aviation from Neil and Cecilia Mathison and renamed it Monaco Air Duluth. Terms of the sale, which closed Nov. 1, were not publicly disclosed.

Some of the changes in store at Monaco Air Duluth include:

  • Expanding to round-the-clock service this year.

  • Installing self-fueling equipment by the first quarter of 2006.

  • Providing high-speed Internet access to clients inside the general aviation terminal.

  • Offering on-the-spot vehicle rental to clients.

  • Providing catering and concierge services.

  • Remodeling the terminal to make it more comfortable.

  • Laying plans to build a new general-aviation facility to be operational by 2007.
  • Monaco also hopes to bring more charter activity to the airport, possibly including an air taxi service. Monaco Air Duluth is in the process of becoming a certified Cirrus Service Center, as well.

    Airport Authority Director Brian Ryks is encouraged by Monaco's ambitious plans and said that if the fixed base operation thrives, the airport and the city also will benefit.

    "Our airport is an economic engine," Ryks said. "It's also a front door to our community."

    For now, Monaco intends to maintain his primary residence in the Chicago area but plans to buy a home in Duluth.

    Monaco's background is primarily in the computer management and consulting industry. He retired in 2002 as senior managing partner at Accenture, a company employing 115,000 people in 48 countries that earned $13.7 billion in 2004.

    In retirement, Monaco has pursued his passion for flying. He got his pilot's license, bought a Cirrus SR22 and then sought out business opportunities in the field by founding Monaco Aviation LLC, an aviation-focused venture capital firm in 2003.

    "I see this as an opportunity to apply my business expertise in an industry I've adopted and immersed myself in for the past 2 years," he said.

    Duluth News Tribune

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