This website uses cookies
More information
Business Air News Bulletin
Business Air News Bulletin
The monthly news publication for aviation professionals.

Why visit ACE ’24?

Related background information from the Handbook...

Aero Center Atlanta
FBO/Handler (Dekalb-Peachtree / Atlanta)

Banyan Air Service
FBO/Handler (Fort Lauderdale Executive / Fort Lauderdale)

Business Jet Center
FBO/Handler (Love Field / Dallas)

Fly Elite Aviation
FBO/Handler (Vance Brand / Longmont)

Galaxy FBO
FBO/Handler (Conroe-North Houston Regional / Conroe)

Jet Aviation Teterboro
FBO/Handler (Teterboro)

Million Air San Antonio
FBO/Handler (San Antonio International / San Antonio)

Naples Aviation
FBO/Handler (Naples)

National Jets Air Center
FBO/Handler (Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International / Fort Lauderdale)

Signature Aviation (West)
FBO/Handler (Teterboro)

Texas Jet
FBO/Handler (Meacham International / Fort Worth)

Conroe (North Houston Regional) Airport

Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport

Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport

Dallas (Love Field) Airport

Teterboro Airport

Fort Worth (Meacham International) Airport

San Antonio International Airport

Atlanta (Dekalb-Peachtree) Airport

Naples Airport

Longmont (Vance Brand) Airport

BAN's World Gazetteer

Georgia

Florida
Texas
Colorado
New Jersey
The monthly news publication for aviation professionals.

Request your printed copy

Customer service drives best performance for top ten US FBOs
Galaxy FBO’s team at the Conroe North Houston Regional in Texas has come top of the 2023 North America BAN FBO survey, a feat it achieved, it says, thanks to its embodying and exemplifying strict industry standards.
First placed Galaxy FBO general manager John Lowry with FBO experience manager Maria Roth and line services manager Evan Coghlan.

It’s a curious and rather wonderful thing, but in this age of progressive automation where everything happens quickly and remotely, people’s preference is actually for old fashioned, customer service.

I say old fashioned, but it’s not really is it. It’s current and a constant in parts of this fast-changing world. Yes, we want to go places quickly, have everything work seamlessly and connectedly. But it turns out that what we also want is to talk with a person when we need help or information; to sit comfortably while we take a minute; to know that someone is looking after us.

That is certainly the take out from the Business Air News survey of North American FBOs. What drives the best performance for our top ten placed facilities? It's customer service.

In the business aviation industry, North America is the land of high disposable individual incomes, higher standards of living, and rapid technological advancements in general aviation and its airport infrastructure. The industry is matured, the region is home to a number of aircraft OEMs, and there is an increase in government investments in R&D. The growing focus on enhancing the infrastructure of private airports, along with favourable changes in regulations, is also supporting the North America fixed base operator market.

Post-COVID, and this sector is gently on the rise. Flight hours continue to increase, and with that comes greater FBO activity. The North America FBO market is expected to grow to $12,638 million by 2028.

The increase in private flying brings not only activity to FBOs, but also demand for fuelling; jetA and sustainable aviation fuel too. More flying has highlighted a shortage in hangar space, as has the trend for larger jets. Not only is there a need to accommodate more aircraft, but the hangars must be large enough to accommodate their greater size.

The outlook for staff is bright, however, since competition among employers is strong. Not only is there a focus on compensation packages to attract talent, but staff may be offered longevity or training packages as an incentive to stay.

Throughout the year, Business Air News surveys its business aircraft owner/operator/pilot subscribers to determine the leading FBOs in North America and, separately, in the EMEA region. The EMEA results were posted in last month’s magazine.

Galaxy FBO’s team at the Conroe North Houston Regional airport in Texas has come top of the 2023 North America BAN FBO survey, a feat it achieved, it says, thanks to its embodying and exemplifying strict industry standards. As a World Fuel Services’ Air Elite Network Diamond location, it meets and exceeds IS-BAH and NATA Safety 1st certification standards.

Galaxy FBO president and CEO Jeremy Gee, vice president Cory Merryman, general manager John Lowry, FBO experience manager Maria Roth and line services manager Evan Coghlan believe their job is to cultivate a good reputation at every link in the chain; making the scheduler’s job simple, making pilots look good, making passengers happy; and making the magic happen, no matter what. The FBO features an arrival/departure aircraft canopy that is large enough for Gulfstream G700s and Bombardier Global 7500s, and it can accommodate short and long term aircraft storage needs within nine hangars. The Black Walnut Café, with views of the runway from its third storey patio, is open to the public for breakfast and lunch.

Lowry says: “We feel that along with our routine daily operations and our ability to anticipate needs, our top position really comes down to building good relationships with the crew and their passengers. With increased traffic, due to growth and business opportunities in north Houston and the surrounding communities, we have seen many new aircraft and new faces over the last year, and that has given us the chance to impress many new travellers.”

The team makes sure to build a relationship with everyone who comes through the doors, even if it is only for one visit. Lowry continues: “We try and make everyone feel this is a home away from home, regardless of what type or size of aircraft they fly. With our ‘trust at every turn’ motto, we make it known to the crew members that we have their back and we care about their safety as our top priority. A recognition from Business Air News will help our high standards become more widely known.”

Going forward, Galaxy will continue to focus on service and safety, and to help communicate the importance of general aviation. “There is nothing so magical as flight; the promise it holds, the adventure it unlocks, the precision it demands,” Lowry adds. “Our passion for aviation goes further than the services we provide on the ramp, and our facility frequently hosts various local and national aviation related educational and networking events.”

Jointly placed in second position is National Jets at Fort Lauderdale International airport in Florida. President and CEO Mark Binko says: “Customers chose National Jets for the same reason people often chose a regional bank or credit union over the national banks, because they know we recognise them like family, we know the passengers by name, their preferences, and this makes the service experience comfortable, like coming home.”

One of the marketable advantages of the FBO is its location on the north side of the airport, off a taxiway not used by the airlines, so getting in and out is quick and efficient. This makes the customers happy and the crews look good. The line service team adds to that efficiency by pre-staging fuel trucks closer to planned parking spots and having customer transportation at the aircraft before the cabin door opens.

While not its primary business, National Jets is the only FBO on the field to handle cargo operations. “These flights take on a special meaning for our team, and operators rely heavily on us, as most of them involve loading supply flights after a hurricane or other natural disaster, handling radioactive waste or perhaps an engine for a major dam,” says Binko. “But our team takes the most pride in supporting rescue flights for dogs and cats, sometimes over 100 on a single flight. Giving back to the community, sometimes communities far away, is a core value for National Jets.”

While service is family friendly, staff never get too relaxed or comfortable. The guest services team mirror some of the same service experience traits of iconic brands such as the Fours Seasons and Disney; standing when crews or customers approach, acknowledging by making eye contact and extending a warm friendly greeting or goodbye. They scan the FBO entrance and lobby in an attempt to anticipate the need for luggage assistance, directions to the restrooms or café, or make simple offerings like a bottle of water or the wi-fi password.

“National Jets is not the newest or largest FBO on the field, not yet, but crews and customers know that taking their aircraft to us means they will be ‘home’, where they are recognised, appreciated and given fast, family-friendly service at a reasonable price," he continues.

The high survey placing comes also thanks to director of talent and culture Valerie Munoz and her recruiting process. Interviews are designed to solicit examples of service ability from candidates that are weighed as equally important as skill sets and experience. New employees will learn the history of the company, how the different divisions work together and what will be expected of them, to which end they receive training from some of the best directors in the industry. Guest services manager Liane Rolle, general manager Robert Grant and the guest service staff work hard to spoil the guests.

The founders of National Jets worked in a family business, an automobile service station in Durham, North Carolina. It was a full-service gas station where crew clients were just as important as passenger clients. “We employ the same strategy at National Jets,” he says. “Aircraft are met by a minimum of three line staff who make sure all needs of the crew are handled. If a crew member needs anything in Fort Lauderdale, they know all they need to do is ask.”

Things are not always easy. In April of this year, Fort Lauderdale experienced a one-in-1,000-year flood that produced 26 inches of rain in just 15 hours. The FBO and maintenance facilities suffered major flood damage and required a rebuild, which was recently completed.

Despite that, the company is very excited about its future. It has just entered its third consecutive prime lease at the airport and is developing a new facility with 160,000 sq ft of hurricane proof hangars and tenant offices. "We plan to break ground in April 2024,” says Binko.

Ranked joint second is Banyan Air at nearby Fort Lauderdale Executive airport, and VP of FBO services Jon Tonko says: “Our team works hard to ensure that our customers receive an unparalleled experience, and we are thrilled that our efforts have been recognised.

"Our team will always strive to provide the best customer service in the business aviation industry. Banyan has become one of America's most trusted FBOs thanks to its commitment to excellence in all aspects of business operations, from customer service and facility management to safety standards compliance. With this recognition in Business Air News, Banyan further cements its position as a leader in business aviation nationwide.”

Business Jet Center at Dallas Love Field in Texas, also sharing second position, wants every customer to have a vibrant and personalised aviation experience, every visit.

Chief experience officer Cat Wren believes great customer service goes beyond asking ‘How are you?’ She has been living and promoting this ideal throughout her 11 years with the company, as well as in her many volunteer positions throughout the business aviation community. “Anyone can do a job or fill a role," she says, "but it takes a special person with a servant’s heart to prioritise the customer’s overall experience on each and every encounter. Personalisation is everything between the customer and FBO. When it comes to teaching your own team what good customer service is, it's vital to ask if your team members take the time to stop and listen to the customer, to truly slow down during the business of the day-to-day, not just when problems arise.

“Encourage the team to think outside the box and understand that one size doesn’t fit all when it comes to customer experience. Experiences don’t have to be costly or expensive to make an impact, they just need to make a person feel special.”

In addition to being the only award-winning FBO at Dallas Love Field, Business Jet is also a part of the Paragon Network and has been the airport's Corporate Aircraft Association Preferred FBO since 2000. The company completed its 16th hangar, measuring 49,000 sq ft, in November 2022 and plans to open three more hangars over the next five years.

During the pandemic, Meridian Teterboro took the opportunity to make some capital improvements to both its executive terminal and the main hangar adjacent to the terminal. The lobby and other common areas were completely renovated with new furniture, carpeting and paint. The interior of the main hangar was repainted, the floor resurfaced with an epoxy finish and LED lighting was installed. Other capital investments include repaving all the parking areas and replacing old fuel trucks with 6,000 gallon tankers. Overall, Meridian has three hangars at the airport with over 100,000 sq ft of space that can accommodate large-cabin and ultra long-range aircraft models such as the Global 6000 and Gulfstream G650.

“We pride ourselves on our commitment to outstanding customer service, and we are gratified that our customers appreciate this commitment and recognise our efforts,” says president Steve Chandoha.

Meridian is Teterboro airport’s only Corporate Aircraft Association Preferred FBO, reflecting its commitment to excellent service and fair pricing. It is IS-BAH Stage II certified, and all the skilled line technicians and ground crew receive initial and recurrent professional training through the NATA Safety 1st curriculum. It is also NATA Safety 1st Clean accredited. There is an on-site aircraft detailing department, and aircraft maintenance is offered through partner Duncan Aviation, which has recently relocated its Teterboro satellite to Meridian.

Celebrating its 45th anniversary at Fort Worth Meacham International airport, Texas Jet has grown from two hangars in 1978 to 24 hangars today, totalling over half a million square feet. It is currently nearing completion of its $30 million expansion project, consisting of five new hangars together measuring 175,000 sq ft. These hangars will accommodate the new, long-range business jets.

Texas Jet’s team members thank Business Air News readers for this incredible honour,” says president Reed Pigman Jr. "Our 40 person team lives Texas Jet’s culture of excellence and constantly works toward our goal of turning customers into passionate advocates of the company. Since our only lines of business are fuel sales and hangar storage, our team’s focus is wowing every single one of our customers every day with our exceptional service. Customer relations manager Holly Hopkins is consistently ranked one of the top CSRs in the US."

And Texas Jet has just won the bid to be the Corporate Aircraft Association Preferred FBO on Fort Worth Meacham, an honour it has held for 20 years. “As always,” says Pigman, “credit for this achievement goes to Texas Jet’s dedicated team.”

Million Air San Antonio, in the home of the Alamo, is known for its ‘wow’ factor says general manager Carina Gonzalez. “It gives us a sense of pride, knowing we are able to take the customer experience to the next level.”

This single, three-storey unit owned franchise works hard to set new standards within the industry, for safety and, most of all, customer service and expectations. “We cater to each aircraft with great care and attention to detail. We are backed by NATA Safety 1st training and trained professionals, and there is no detail too small or problem too great.

“Our team’s crisp performance, professional decorum and attention to detail are all examples of our priorities: safety, service and excellence.”

Continuing the Lone Star State theme of highly exceptional FBO’s, Million Air San Antonio's facility at San Antonio International airport is in the process of being fully renovated.

One lucky North American voter won the prize draw and will be receiving his watch shortly. His vote, if you’re interested, went to Fly Elite Aviation at Vance Brand airport in Longmont, Colorado.

“When our grandchildren moved to Boulder, Colorado in 2018, I had to find an FBO to leave our plane for extended periods,” says MulletAir pilot Dave Hackem who flies a PA-46 Meridian. “I called Elite and they assured me short term hangar space was available. General manager Joe Mestas runs all the line support, he’s always made space available, pulled us out and fuelled to my requests. I can’t say enough about everyone there, they are so nice and professional.”

Asked why he keeps a flamingo by his plane, he says: “My wife and I live in Florida, we brought a bit of Florida to Colorado."

Each voter was given five votes, and Hackem also mentioned Base Operations at Page Field, Fort Myers, Florida; Glacier Jet Center at Kalispell/Glacier Park International, Montana; Avflight Lansing at Capital Region International airport, Michigan; and South Arkansas Regional airport at Goodwin Field.

Other News
 
NetJets adds quality amenities to hubs across the US
July 19, 2024
The company plans to completely renovate and rebrand its primary FBO at the Teterboro airport in New Jersey, after significant improvements are made in collaboration with Teterboro-based FBO Signature Aviation.
IBAC names IS-BAH Standards Board for the year
June 21, 2024
In addition to reviewing potential changes to the IS-BAH standard, the Council welcomed three new members to the IS-BAH Standards Board: Troy Hyberger, Rick Hooper and Jose Rubinho.
John Wayne airport recognises Fly Friendly winners for 2023
May 24, 2024
The initiative, aimed at reducing noise and encouraging sustainable aviation practices, marks its second year promoting community-friendly operations.
Modern Aviation closes acquisition of American Aero at Fort Worth Meacham
May 9, 2024