Stephens Partner Plans State-of-the-Art FBO at LR Airport

by Gwen Moritz  on Monday, Feb. 20, 2006 12:00 am  

If the Little Rock Airport Commission approves on Wednesday, as is expected, here's what you can expect from a new fixed-based operator on the site of Chris Finkbeiner's Omni Air:

• A 75,000-SF hangar strictly for Stephens Group Inc. of Little Rock, which will be a partial owner and anchor tenant;

• Three other buildings totaling about 65,000 SF, including a new, state-of-the-art FBO of 6,000-8,000 SF;

• A total footprint of 15.8 acres, including the 7 acres currently leased to Omni, with long-range plans to grow to more than 25 acres;

• Initial employment of 54 on site with future plans for 165-280 employees.

Ed Sause, chief financial and acquisitions officer for American Airports Corp. of Santa Monica, Calif., said last week that a lease agreement with the airport should be signed in March with construction of the new FBO, to be called Supermarine of Little Rock, to begin about four months later. Omni Air will be razed and replaced with an FBO the likes of which Little Rock has not seen.

"It will certainly be more modern" than the primary FBO currently operating at the Little Rock airport, Central Flying Service, Sause said. "It will be a different layout and much more state-of-the-art."

Over the next eight years or so, Supermarine plans two expansions, the first adding another 50,000 SF of hangar space and the second adding at least 90,000 SF, for a total of at least 260,000 SF under roof. That's about half the size of Central Flying's current operation.

Stephens Group, which bought Omni last year, initially planned to operate the FBO strictly for its own corporate needs, Stephens spokesman Frank Thomas said. But after being encouraged by the airport commission to operate a larger facility, Stephens brought in American Airports, which operates seven FBOs under the Supermarine name — six in California and one in Honolulu.

Stephens will be a 10 percent owner of the new business, Supermarine of Little Rock LLC.

So far, Stephens is the only confirmed tenant of hangar space at Supermarine. But Sause said he wasn't worried about finding enough business — "not based on the inquiries we've received."

The Supermarine name is an homage to the Supermarine Spitfire, a single-seat fighter used by the British Royal Air Force during World War II.



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