Cluster of corporate jet service firms taking shape at airport |

Cluster of corporate jet service firms taking shape at airport

John Seelmeyer

Executives of Reno-Tahoe International Airport believe they’re close to achieving a critical mass of companies that service corporate aircraft from across the West.

And as that happens, they say the economic development activity on the airport is likely to begin spilling into other areas of the Reno-Sparks economy as suppliers follow the jet-maintenance companies into northern Nevada.

A larger infrastructure of suppliers and support services, in turn, may help draw more maintenance facilities.

In fact, the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada in recent months added aviation and aerospace to its list of target industries promising sectors that can generate high-paying, high-skilled jobs for the region.

The seeds of the growing sector were planted in 2009, when Dassault Aircraft Services opened a 40,000-square-foot service center along Rock Boulevard on the eastern side of the airport.

The facility, which can handle as many as five Dassault Falcon corporate jets at a time, provides maintenance and inspection services for aircraft based throughout the Northwest.

More momentum came last summer, when Western Jet Aviation began creation of a 10-employee operation in Reno that serves Gulfstream private jets.

Western Jet Aviation, which is headquartered at Van Nuys, Calif., expects the Reno facility will draw Gulfstream owners from northern California, Oregon, Washington and elsewhere.

The wide reach of the Dassault and Western Jet Aviation facilities mean that they’ll be attracting fresh dollars into the region’s economy, says Tina Iftiger, director of airport economic development.

“They’re going to grow the market,” says Iftiger. “They will grow Reno as a destination for corporate aircraft.”

Further support for development of a corporate-aircraft economic cluster comes from Million Air Interlink, which plans to invest $20 million in a facility to serve private aircraft at Reno-Tahoe International.

The company, based temporarily in the former Sierra Air Center facilities along Rock Boulevard, will invest $10 million in the first phase of its new facilities to be built by United Construction Co. of Reno near Rock and Mill Street. That’s scheduled for completion in the next two years.

Million Air, which is headquartered at Houston, then has committed to investment of another $10 million at the airport over the next five years.

Along with fueling services, the Reno facility will provide aircraft maintenance and services such as theater rooms and crew transportation in BMW automobiles that are targeted toward owners of high-end aircraft.

Iftiger notes, too, that the development is beginning to create its own momentum.

For instance, Atlantic Aviation, a fixed-based operator on the airport, recently added a fuel truck that allows Dassault to widen the services it provides.

“They are stepping up their game,” she says. “Dassault doesn’t grow if they don’t provide the services that Dassault needs.”

As the airport’s economic development team attends meetings of groups such as the National Business Aviation Association, Iftiger says the focus now expands beyond aircraft maintenance companies that might locate at the airport.

“Who are their suppliers?” she asks. “Who are their customers?”

Airport-owned land available for development, she says, includes a parcel at the southeast corner of the facility as well as land along Airway Drive south of McCarran Boulevard.

Reno-Stead Airport, meanwhile, offers about 3,000 acres for development. Iftiger says defense contractors have given the location a look as a potential site for new facilities.


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