FBO Fairbanks Sets Up Shop in The Last Frontier - Aviation International News
Though Alaska-based Omni Logistics has had a large presence at Fairbanks International Airport (PAFA) for nearly four decades, its first foray into the FBO business is recent history. The company, which had traditionally supported the air cargo and commercial airlines operations at the airport, opened the new-build FBO Fairbanks last year in conjunction with Everts Air Fuel.
“I guess you could call it a joint venture,” said Omni’s president Denny Michel, adding that the companies looked to diversify during the pandemic and played to each other’s strengths. “They didn’t want to do customer service and ground handling, I didn’t want to do fuel.” Given that Titan Aviation Fuels supplies Everts, the FBO soon became a Titan-branded facility.
The building consists of a 2,000-sq-ft terminal with a 20-seat conference/training room, flight planning area, business center, refreshment bar with locally-sourced snacks, and a crew car.
During the winter months, the airport, with its 11,000-foot main runway, serves mainly as a tech and cargo stop. But for those crews who have to spend the night, the FBO ensures they are well accommodated with a quartet of four overnight rooms with north-facing, floor-to-ceiling windows. Their occupants can sit back and enjoy a spectacular view of the Aurora Borealis without having to brave the sub-zero temperatures outside. In the peak summer months, when Alaska’s climate becomes hospitable and the tourists arrive, local hotels tend to book out, but crews can still spend the night at the FBO, which can provide accommodations.
As well, the location offers 24/7 planeside U.S. Customs clearance with advanced notice, and for those needing a rental car, the local Avis office positions some at the FBO for easy accessibility.
The terminal adjoins a 22,000-sq-ft Group 1 hangar with a 45-foot-high, 135-foot-wide door and foam fire suppression. “The hangar was built to military spec because our military clients are very important to us,” explained Michel, adding that his company holds the Department of Defense Logistics contract to handle and fuel military and government aircraft. “We actually have two redundant [heating] systems, either one can heat the hangar, but you turn them both on and you can pull in a frozen plane covered in snow and an hour later it's warm to the touch. We have the capacity to put any kind of private jet inside our hangar and being 40-below, even if you are on a tech stop, sometimes you don’t mind keeping the airplane warm.”
Omni also has an older facility nearby with a 10,000-sq-ft hangar and a door height of 17 feet where it can shelter smaller aircraft and its ground service equipment fleet. It is connected to an unused 2,500-sq-ft former ticketing area, which the company occasionally leases out as temporary space for engineering and support staff in instances of aircraft cold weather testing. That hangar also includes additional crew lodging with a two-bedroom apartment complete with a bathroom, kitchen, and laundry facilities.
While Omni’s employee roster can swell to 100 during the peak commercial airline handling season, the FBO has a year-round staff of 14, trained through the NATA Safety 1st program as well as in commercial airline safety procedures. Given its location, the FBO provides Type I and IV deicing with two trucks that can handle airliner tail heights.
FBO Fairbanks occupies nearly six acres at PAFA and its ramp—which is configured to handle large aircraft from the C-17 on down—has 16,000 sq ft of concrete hardstands in addition to the regular asphalt pavement. It will soon add another five acres of leased ramp space contiguous with its own. Plans call for Omni to add a 20,000-sq-ft cargo and ground service equipment maintenance facility over the next few years that will free up additional aircraft storage space in the old 10,000-sq-ft hangar.
As the FBO develops its clientele, Michel looks for his staff to provide superior customer service even if it means quickly sourcing caribou or moose meat from a local smokehouse for customers. He noted an instance when a client visiting on a fishing trip returned empty-handed. Michel happened to have some recently-caught frozen salmon on hand which he pulled out and sent on its way with the disappointed angler.
“We’re a small town and everyone here is very friendly,” he told AIN. “We want that to be portrayed in the way we handle our customers. We want that aircraft to leave happy and wanting to come back to Fairbanks.”