Making its first EBACE appearance this year, U.S. FBO chain Castle & Cooke is exhibiting here in Geneva as part of the Avfuel contingent (Booth G88). Earlier this year, Castle & Cooke, which operates a trio of FBOs in Hawaii, California and Washington State, signed on as an Avfuel dealer, making this the first major show where it joins the global fuel distributor’s lineup.
According to Tony Marlow, the service provider’s vice president of aviation operations and business development, European traffic at the company’s Los Angeles-area Van Nuys Airport FBO has picked up since U.S. Customs service was recently restored after an absence of several years. “With Customs clearance there, we’ve seen an uptick in direct flights, especially with the longer-range airplanes,” he told AIN. “In fact we have a tenant who is Europe-based and is making regular flights to and from, and then our regular tenants as well have some European business.” Presently, Marlow said, the location receives a handful of European operations a month. “It really does vary quite a lot, but the key point is we have seen an uptick and, indeed, when they are departing, bigger fuel uplifts,” he noted.
Once customers clear customs, immigration and quarantine at the facility attached to the Signature Flight Support FBO, their aircraft are moved to the Castle & Cooke facility, which recently underwent at $12 million upgrade with the addition of a new 3,716-square-meter (40,000-square-foot) hangar, (bringing the location up to 187,000 sq ft (17,372 sq m) of aircraft storage), and two acres of ramp space. In addition to its standard level of upscale amenities, the FBO also offers a VVIP facility known as “7501,” which includes its own gate entrance and dedicated ramp space directly off the taxiway. The private building includes a large conference room, reception desk, cocktail bar, fully-functional kitchen with industrial refrigerators, and lounge areas for large or small groups. “We have a beautiful facility and we have a team that is really dedicated to high-level service,” Marlow added. “We’re unique, and it's more of a boutique—not the sort of cookie-cutter approach. But you will get what you need, and you’ll get what you want, and you will want to come back.”
Castle & Cooke traces its historic corporate roots back to 1851, more than half a century before the first powered flight. It has operated the Van Nuys facility since 1981, first as a “corporate aviation facility” catering to based tenants only, and then adding transient service as a full-fledged FBO in 2010. In 2007, it purchased FBOs at Honolulu International Airport and at Paine Field in Everett, Wash., to establish itself as an FBO chain.
Due to its U.S. West Coast presence, the company has been a regular exhibitor at the ABACE show, held each year in Shanghai since 2012. Marlow has grown to appreciate the smaller scale and more intimate setting the event provides, compared with NBAA’s annual business aviation convention and exhibition (NBAA-BACE-scheduled this year for Las Vegas). He expects to encounter a similar atmosphere in Geneva. “I’ve been told by some other FBOs that EBACE is a great place to have more individualized meetings with operators, too,” he said.
The company’s Honolulu facility, one of three service providers at the airport, includes a 7,000-sq-ft terminal, featuring an elegant lobby and reception area, conference room, rental and crew cars, and a 17,000-sq-ft hangar.
The company’s third FBO is in Everett, Washington, at Snohomish County Airport/Paine Field. It offers a U.S. entry port to the Seattle area, with U.S. customs, immigration and agriculture inspection services. As the lone full-service FBO on the field, it can handle aircraft up to the size of a Boeing 747. At all three locations, the company can handle all aspects of international arrival services, including trash disposal.