Standard Aviation has opened its new luxury FBO at Cyril E. King Airport on St. Thomas Island in the Caribbean.
The 28,000ft2 (2,230m2) terminal has taken four years to build and was funded by a
public / private partnership between the Virgin Islands Port Authority and Standard Aviation. It is the largest
free-span building, meaning it has no interior columns, in the Caribbean. The build was originally planned to take a year and a half to complete.
“They call it island time for a reason,” said Shaun Miller, managing member at Standard Aviation.
“It’s quite challenging building on the islands. A major delay was caused by hurricane Irma. Then two weeks later we had hurricane Maria. We had two category five storms within two weeks in 2017 and that certainly slowed progress. But we were able to work through that. And after four years, we have a wonderful facility.”
Designed by Boston-based architect Shari Pellows Interiors, the FBO has been designed with the risk of tropical storms and hurricanes in mind and is heavily reinforced, ensuring the protection of valuable assets from the tropics’ harsh elements. The hangar can accommodate jets up to a Gulfstream G550 and uses semi-autonomous tugs to ensure that aircraft are safely positioned while maximizing storage space. “We have two very unique robotic tow vehicles that mean we can really pack the aircraft in a very tightly,” said Miller.
Facilities for visitors and crews at the Standard Aviation FBO include separate lobbies within the two-storey complex, a pilots’ relaxation room, and a flight planning conference center that overlooks the runway of Cyril E. King Airport.
Miller said, “On the second floor we’ve got a kitchenette available for the crew, rest quarters and a flight planning conference room available. It’s a beautiful conference room. We also have very lavish showers for the pilots, as well as a crew kitchen and stove and a dishwasher available too.”
The FBO hosts charters of fixed and rotor -wing assets in house, including AeroMD air ambulance, Breeze Air Charters, Caribbean Buzz Helicopters and the Uflyvi flight school, aircraft rental, and management. “We can now connect you to small islands, particularly the other highly desirable destinations in the British Virgin Islands, and we have a direct service to St. Barts. You can land in St. Thomas at the Standard Aviation facility, clear customs, and then head to St. Barts,” said Miller.
St. Maarten is also a destination offering from Standard Aviation, where they routinely run out of ramp space in high-season.
“I’ve been flying to St. Thomas for many years, and there really wasn’t a facility up to the standards that the circuit would expect. It’s been many years since they’ve had any new FBO facilities open up there, so it was long overdue. St. Thomas has always been lacking a luxury FBO and that’s where we saw the opportunity,” Miller said.
“Tourism is vital to the Virgin Islands economy, and our premiere new facility is an important piece of that picture for the future,” said Sabina Rosario, general manager of Standard Aviation. “As Caribbean tourism steadily rebounds from the effects of Covid-19 and the previously relied upon cruise industry, visitors will exclusively select destinations where they can rely on exceptional facilities and five-star experiences.
“Our customer service team members undergo training and demonstrate the regional knowledge, to provide the concierge services that will make any client’s trip perfect.”
A member of Air Elite by World Fuel network, Standard Aviation has been recognized as being among the top 75 World Fuel Services branded locations known for their superior facilities and unparalleled customer service.
Standard Aviation is also certified by the Corporate Aircraft Association as a preferred FBO. The company is also active with the National Air Transportation Association, exceeding the highest safety practices for aircraft fuelling. The facility has received accolades from US Virgin Islands Governor, Albert Bryan, Jr., and Virgin Islands Port Authority Executive Director, Carlton Dowe.
“St. Thomas has become a significant hub for the Eastern Caribbean tourism market. We have many passengers coming here to connect with a yacht. These jet owners will look to secure the assets in our hangar,” said Miller.
Just like the rest of the aviation sector, the Coronavirus pandemic initially impacted Standard Aviation, but the company has aimed to make the best out of the situation. “During the first months of the pandemic we used the opportunity for additional training of the staff. Once the lockdown ended here, we saw a significant increase in business, especially between March and mid-October, because you could not fly to Europe. So, everybody came to the Caribbean. We actually saw an increase of 207%.
“The requirements for St. Thomas are heightened at the moment. You can only enter with a negative Covid-19 test, but it’s still a very appealing destination. We are expecting an impressive peak season, which for us runs between US Thanksgiving until about April. Our team is elated to welcome jet owners, charter guests, and their crews to our world-class facility in the Virgin Islands.”