Business Is Well At TAC Air Centennial

April 17, 2012
Pricing is key at Denver's Arapahoe County general aviation airport

ENGLEWOOD, CO — Dan Bryant, general manager at TAC Air Centennial Airport (APA), has always been in the FBO business. He started with the Combes-Gates FBO at Denver's former Stapleton Airport, and has been with TAC Air for 12 years now.

"We refer to ourselves as a gas and grass operation," says Bryant. We sell fuel, hangar space, and tie-downs.

"Fuel is the largest revenue generator by far; we have 130,000 square feet of hangar space that supports some 45 corporate jets based here." Some 80 percent of the traffic here can be attributed to corporate and business aviation. 

"Centennial tends to be more of a destination airport," relates Bryant. "We do get some transcontinental flights stopping for fuel. We drive the business with customer service and amenities; Centennial is a very general aviation friendly airport."

Trends; Pricing

Bryant says he hasn’t seen a huge shift in aircraft type operating out of Centennial recentely. "Overall looking at the volume of activity here at the airport, it appears we have hit bottom in the past two years," he adds. "Volumes are trending up; it feels like things are shaking loose a bit, and people are moving around from a corporate standpoint.

"I think there’s been a pent up demand; people have been holding their cards close to their chest, so to speak. The economy is relaxing a little bit now; you can quantify that to some degree with the airport’s trend upwards in jet fuel volumes."

TAC Air Centennial competes not only locally, but regionally as well, and as far as Phoenix and Salt Lake City, explains Bryant.

Comments TAC Air director of marketing, David Edwards, "There are roughly 3,000 FBOs in the U.S.; aircraft are becoming more fuel efficient everyday … the name of the game in aviation right now is fuel efficiency and keeping fuel costs down.

"We think the airport as a whole is attracting more traffic from the regional and surrounding airports than it has been previously."

Says Bryant, "We had a record day recently … our price has absolutely increased our volume by 6 or 7 percent in the last six months; we are real proud of that."

Pricing is so key here, TAC Air's website says the FBO will not be undersold, stating that customers who bring in a verified competitor’s price on the field that is lower than TAC Air, the FBO will beat the price by a nickel.

Facility; Infrastructure

"We have some facility improvement plans in the works to enhance the customer service experience here at the terminal," relates Bryant. "In terms of expansion, we are pretty much built-out on this leasehold."

Hangar storage capacity here is currently more than 90 percent full, and the lease agreement is very good, says Bryant. "We have some 60-plus years remaining on the lease; the original lease was very long-term."

Says Edwards, "That’s part of the factor in the beauty of fuel pricing — our capital investments have to be covered by the fuel, so when you have a favorable lease, that enables success. The lease issue is very important."

With regard to sustainiblity, the company just undertook an initiative to change out all of its high-energy consumption lighting fixtures, which consume 1,000-watts each, says Bryant. "There were 38 fixtures per bay in the hangars; we switched those to an induction light that cuts energy consumption by some 80 percent.

"It goes right to the bottom line and it’s better for the environment."

On the recent passage of the FAA reauthorization bill, "It affects me indirectly by increasing the funding requirement for federally funded projects," explains Bryant. "The airport’s contribution went from 5 percent to 10 percent, which creates a larger burden on the tenants of the airport and can defer safety or runway improvements; everything just got 5 percent more expensive." 

About the Author

Brad McAllister | Editor