Scottsdale Airport bucks Covid-19 downturn with growth in flights and investment


Scottsdale Airport in Arizona, USA experienced significant growth in activity during the second half of last year with an unprecedented level of investment being made into the airport’s facilities and infrastructure, including the opening of a third FBO last month.

The airport’s operations have exceeded last year’s each month since July, with 5,094 flights compared to 4,271 in November. There has also been an increase in the number of aircraft based at Scottsdale.

Sarah Ferrara, aviation planning and outreach coordinator at Scottsdale Airport said, “Despite the dip during April and May, our operational numbers have recovered very well and are exceeding last year’s.

“Anecdotally we can see that many charter operators are really busy and they are reporting a lot of interest from new customers.

“It helps that we enjoy a lot of competitive advantages here. The weather is gorgeous this time of year, we normally get a lot of visitors from Canada, Midwest, the East Coast and many other countries. We have industry-leading facilities and amenities at the airport including world class resorts, daily customs service and business centres all close by.

“One of our main advantages has existed for a long time – the through the fence access that gives people direct access from the Airpark for their private aircraft.” 

In 2018 a large-scale US$28 million redevelopment of the airport’s terminal area was completed which included the construction of two executive hangars and a new business centre, lounges and conference rooms. Three private hangars have also been recently built at Scottsdale, representing around US$23 million of investment.

Most recently, Jet Aviation opened its US$13 million FBO at Scottsdale during December, while a US$9 million project to build 14 box hangars was nearing completion. Jet Aviation has a further US$4 million second phase expansion in planning, while Scottsdale FBO Ross Aviation is planning to build a new US$15 million, 55,000ft2 hangar with office space.

A US$12 million runway rehabilitation project will also happen during summer.

Ferrara said, “The terminal redevelopment, which created the new Aviation Business Center and 40,000ft2 of executive corporate hangar space, transformed an underutilized property to accommodate growth in aviation activity. 

“The other construction projects have also helped fill the need for hangar space and having a third FBO is a sign of confidence that there is enough business to go around.

“All of the Covid-19 health and safety protocols and social distancing are being adhered to at the airport. Fortunately, it does feel busy and we are on pace to exceed last year’s operational numbers.”

Jet Aviation continues USA expansion

he recent redevelopment at Scottsdale Airport consolidated offices, customs operations and tenant spaces into the Aviation Business Center

The recent redevelopment at Scottsdale Airport consolidated offices, customs operations and tenant spaces into the Aviation Business Center

Jet Aviation’s new FBO and 30,000ft2 hangar at Scottsdale offers passenger and crew lounges, snooze rooms, a conference room, flight planning and weather terminals and a full suite of aircraft services. The company has redeveloped the Scottsdale Jet Center site after acquiring it during May 2019.

The FBO’s opening is the latest in a series of network developments for the General Dynamics owned aviation services and charter provider.

Danny Larsen, vice president of business development and real estate for Jet Aviation said, “This is our sixth US FBO network project in the last two years, including acquisitions in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Scottsdale and Bozeman, coupled with hangar and FBO facility investments in Teterboro, Van Nuys, Palm Beach and now the facility opening in Scottsdale. 

“It has been built to complement existing facilities using cost and energy-efficient construction practices. We plan to install solar panels at the site during 2021.”

Like Scottsdale Airport, Jet Aviation had a busy second half of 2020 pursuing an expansion strategy in the USA. During August, the company opened a new 42,000ft2 hangar and shared 11,270ft2 FBO terminal at its Palm Beach International Airport FBO, Florida. 

The following month the company acquired Arlin’s FBO operations at the Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport in Montana, expanding its network in the Northwest of the USA. 

David Best, Jet Aviation’s senior vice president of regional operations and general manager in the USA, said the company intends to continue expanding through acquisitions. Best said, “We have promised our customers that we will expand where demand is high and that we are fully committed to delivering industry-leading services as required.

“With Scottsdale Airport in the top 15 busiest business aviation hubs in the US, this new opening underscores our commitment to strengthening our position as a leading FBO provider.”

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Ben has worked all of his career as a journalist and now editor, covering almost all aspects of technology, engineering and industry. In the last 20 years he has written on subjects from nuclear submarines and autonomous cars to future design and manufacturing technologies and commercial aviation. Latterly editor of a leading engineering magazine, he brings an eye for a great story and lots of experience to the team.

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