Spotlight On: Joel Jenkinson, Airport Director, Addison Airport

Spotlight On: Joel Jenkinson, Airport Director, Addison Airport

2022-09-09T10:19:40-04:00September 8th, 2022|Dallas, Spotlight On, Transportation|

2 min read September 2022 Addison Airport is a public airport in Addison, located north of Downtown Dallas. In an interview with Invest:, Director Joel Jenkinson discussed highlights and achievements, opportunities and challenges and how it will accommodate an increase in demand.  

 What have been some of the key highlights and achievements for Addison Airport in the past year?

 The biggest achievement is our new U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Airport Administration facility. CBP inspected our previous facility in 2015 and said it no longer met their standards. They wanted us to upgrade or provide a new facility to meet their requirements. We participate in the User Fee Airport Program, which is for airports, like ours, that do not have the level of traffic or cargo volume to support a U.S. Customs presence at no cost. We are not a port of entry or a high-volume airport; however, we have a number of international corporate customers who want this service, so it is very important to have U.S. Customs here. We’ve participated in this program since 1995 and we have several companies and international operators who use Customs services frequently.

 Over the past few years, we worked with CBP to develop a plan and give them a facility that meets their criteria. They are very happy with it. Our City Council showed a lot of foresight to build a second story on this building to house airport staff, which provides a high-visibility location without occupying any more valuable land. This is something we constantly struggle with; we are limited and don’t have land for new developments except redevelopment. We started construction in 2019 and moved into the new facilities a year ago, which has been great for CBP and us.

Additionally, we have some redevelopment going on. At the south end of the airport, we have a new fixed-based operator (Galaxy FBO) that is near completion. They have invested $28 million for the construction of that facility, and it is driving new business to the region. We also have other redevelopment projects in other parts of the airport.

 What are the biggest opportunities and challenges for the airport moving forward?

 One of our biggest opportunities came from the pandemic itself. A lot of people who would have flown on commercial airlines for business purposes didn’t want to use commercial services in the middle of a pandemic, so they started to use charters. A lot of these people recognized the advantages a charter provides. They could avoid going through TSA and have an airplane for themselves, with people they know and feel safe with. It is quicker and a lot nicer. A lot of customers have discovered the charter market and are not going back. There is a huge upswing in demand for business aviation, which is a great opportunity to have.

 For us, there are additional opportunities. The Dallas Area Rapid Transit system (DART) rail line is coming and Addison has a station. Addison has signed an agreement with AMLI and Stream Realty to build a transit-oriented development that is worth $472 million. That will bring new businesses and more residents into Addison. It will have a line to DFW for those who want to fly commercial but it will also give us opportunities to grow our airport as well. The Addison economy is based on hotels, restaurants, office buildings, transportation and innovative-type businesses, so when the office buildings are full, so are the hotels and restaurants and our hangars. People who work here like the convenience of being able to drive a few minutes, get on an airplane and go where they need to go and come back on the same day.

 How will you accommodate the increasing demand for business travel as the corporate footprint increases in the area?

 We are going through a redevelopment period. A lot of our hangars were built in the 1980s when business jets were fairly new, so as these facilities are no longer economically viable, we will scrap them and redevelop them. We have three new ground leases in negotiation to redevelop parts of the airport, one of which is just over 6 acres, which will add about 110,000 square feet of hangar space for large corporate jets.

 By the same token, Galaxy FBO has three hangars for a total of 110,000 square feet. Those will probably fill up within a month from opening. That is the kind of demand we have and there is potential for us to continue to grow through redevelopment, especially because some of our facilities are older. We require facilities that accommodate larger aircraft and as part of our revitalization, we will need to tear old hangars down to build something bigger and better.

What has been the impact of the labor shortage on flight school attendance?

There is a huge demand for pilots going forward and flight schools are key in providing the training. One of our flight schools was really hurt by the pandemic, mainly because they recruit students from foreign countries and train them to work for airlines in their country of origin. That got shut down because international travel was hindered by the pandemic. They are now working their way out of that.

 We will continue to have strong flight schools, which is vital to our region. There is a new program called Rising Aviation. It is part of an alternative STEM-oriented high school that is focused on teaching young people to pilot aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles. It is important because it feeds the pipeline of the future workforce, which is very much in need.

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