15 July 2010

Aviation firm invests $1.1M in Subic airport

Efforts by the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) to carve a niche in aircraft chartering service finally hit pay dirt, as an aviation company based in Guam decided to establish a world-class, full-service aviation center here at the Subic Bay International Airport (SBIA).

Aviation Concepts Holdings (AC), an American-Canadian joint venture, is investing US$1.1-million to rehabilitate facilities at the SBIA and start operations by mid-September, said Anthony Decostes, the firm’s senior vice-president.

Decostes said they are committed to offer a full range of aviation services and facilities to clients. These include ground handling, maintenance repair and overhaul, FBO facility with VIP crew lounge and amenities, air ambulance, aircraft scheduling and recordkeeping, aircraft detailing, hangarage and technical stop services.

Decostes and AC aviation security head Edward Pooley signed the contract for the aviation service project here last week with Stef Saño, SBMA senior deputy administrator for business, and retired B/Gen. Marcelo Santos, head of the SBMA airport department.

SBMA administrator Armand Arreza, meanwhile, referred to the AC project as the “resurrection” of the SBIA, which has lain dormant since February 2009 when the Federal Express transferred its Asia-Pacific hub here to China.

He said that just as FedEx in 1995 ushered in the first wave of foreign business locators to this free port, the AC project could now open new opportunities by attracting intercontinental jets to the SBIA.

“Aviation Concepts has transformed an abandoned and dilapidated military hangar into Guam’s aviation center. SBIA will surely reap huge benefits from the expertise of this international firm,” Arreza also said.

Decostes echoed this optimism, saying the jets his company services will bring aircraft owners and VIPs here to see “what a wonderful area Subic Bay is, physically and business-wise.”

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“Our concept here is to basically copy what is in Guam, bring it here and expand it,” said Decostes, who also serves as AC’s country director in the Philippines.

AC, he said, began looking at the Philippines when their Guam operations “grew exponentially, but faced problems with actual, physical growth.”

In 2007, in partnership with Universal Weather and Aviation, Inc., AC opened the first aircraft scheduling center for business aircraft in Makati. Due to the success of this venture, AC targeted Subic Bay for a bigger operations program.

“Lucky for us the SBIA was vacated by FedEx. Everything seems prepared for us — world-class aviation facilities, minimal air traffic, availability of trained workforce. Everything we need is right here in Subic,” Decostes said.

Decostes also praised Subic’s easy accessibility via the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway, and the ease of making transactions with the SBMA.

“Bureaucracy is better here than in Manila,” he commented. “I’m going to say that is a great factor for us.”

Decostes also said his company will hire 50 employees for its Subic operations, and that the workers will be trained to the highest level attainable. (SBMA Corporate Communications)

PHOTO: Officials of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority and Aviation Concepts Holdings sign the contract for a full-service aviation center project at the Subic Bay International Airport (L-R): SBIA manager Marcelo Santos, SBMA senior deputy administrator for business Stef Saño, Aviation Concepts senior vice-president Anthony Decostes, and AC aviation security head Edward Pooley.