Florida is in the midst of an aviation renaissance

Florida is in the midst of an aviation renaissance

By: Beatrice Silva 

2 min read September 2020 — Despite a dismal year for the aviation industry, Orlando Melbourne International Airport is experiencing a period of exponential growth. Companies such as Made in Space and Aerion Supersonic have announced plans to relocate their headquarters to central Florida, which will help bring hundreds of jobs to the region. 

Aerion Supersonic plans to relocate its headquarters from Reno, Nevada, to Melbourne, Florida. The American aircraft manufacturer received a substantial investment from Space Florida that will help bring an estimated 675 jobs to the region over the next six years. Aerion Supersonic and Space Florida also have plans to build a $300-million state-of-the-art campus at Melbourne International Airport. Located on 60 acres of undeveloped property at the northwest corner of the airport, Aerion Park will boast a center for research along with facilities for manufacturing, design and production. 

The AS2, a supersonic business jet, will be the first aircraft manufactured at Aerion Park. Production of this ultrafast fleet is scheduled to begin in 2023. “Our engineers call it science, but we call it time travel,” Aerion said in a tweet. “Why? At the speed of 1,000 MPH, we’re taking you from JFK to Sydney in 13 hours and 43 minutes instead of 18 hours and 6 minutes. Use those hours with your family instead.” 

Florida is in the midst of an aviation renaissance. Despite an unsettling year, the industry has remained resilient. Space Florida has high hopes that the creation of Aerion Park will help captivate other aviation and aerospace corporations to the area, which will only bring more exploration and innovation to the region. 

“This is a truly transformational project for Florida that changes the game for high-speed air transportation as well as for advanced aerospace manufacturing in the state,” Frank DiBello, president and CEO of Space Florida, told AINonline. “The decision to locate design, engineering, and manufacturing of this technologically advanced supersonic flight vehicle here in Florida is a testament to the growing strength and global recognition of the importance of Florida as a world-leading aerospace state.”

Aerion Supersonic isn’t the only corporation that has received investments from Space Florida to help relocate its operations to the Sunshine State. Earlier this year, Made In Space, announced its decision to move its headquarters from Mountain View California to Jacksonville. The engineering company specializes in the manufacturing of three-dimensional printers for use in microgravity.

“Relocating our headquarters to Jacksonville is a strategic step to position the company for long-term growth,” Andrew Rush, Made In Space president and CEO, said in a statement. “By expanding our presence in Florida, we can leverage a skilled aerospace workforce, large-scale infrastructure to support our growth, and key strategic partners like Space Florida that will accelerate our momentum as we continue to develop world-class space technology.”

A look at American Airlines’ Charlotte operations: 700 daily departures and counting

A look at American Airlines’ Charlotte operations: 700 daily departures and counting

By: Felipe Rivas

2 min read Feb 2020From its strong headquarter relocation culture to its growing population and access to both capital and high-skilled talent, the Queen City has been flying high for several years. Undoubtedly, much of the region’s success can be directly attributed to the Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT) and the American Airlines hub that now serves more than 700 daily departures. 

The airport is undergoing a $3 billion makeover, modernizing and expanding its infrastructure with American at the center of the renovation efforts. In this process, the airport and American are helping recruit companies to Charlotte and training the next generation of the aviation workforce.  

This past holiday season, the airport renovation projects began to materialize as American added four gates on Concourse A to its Charlotte operations. “Charlotte 700” refers to American’s growth strategy in the Queen City and aims to serve more than 700 daily flight departures, a figure which Vice President of Operations Dec Lee said the airline surpassed. “Charlotte 700 refers to our original plan to have 700 flight departures a day, but we are actually over 700 departures a day now,” Lee told Invest: Charlotte. “Every time you want to add options for customers, you have to make sure that you can handle that and still have a great operation. We have a great collaboration with our network team and with the airport to build the right flight schedule,” he said.

 

The airport and American have been a vital part of the region’s economic diversification success and thriving headquarter relocation culture. “When you listen to some of the corporate announcements explaining why companies have moved here, you often hear about the ability to fly out of the hub. It is a great experience, particularly for business travelers, to be able to fly out in the morning and come back in the afternoon,” Lee said. Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles echoed Lee’s sentiments. “We have invested heavily to make our airport a transport hub for the region with access to global businesses,” Lyles told Invest: Charlotte. 

Charlotte government officials and business leaders have been working in tandem to promote the Queen City as a business destination to local and international companies. One major target sits across the Atlantic. “This year, we will make a concerted effort to reach out to companies in Europe to let them know that Charlotte, thanks to its strong travel infrastructure, is a viable destination for their U.S. expansion,” Lyles said. 

For those interested in aviation, mechanics and engineering, American could be a potential job destination. The airline is coming to the end of a labor cycle, meaning opportunities will open for young workers. “We have a population of mechanics and pilots who are beginning to reach retirement age. That is unfortunate for us, but it is a fantastic opportunity to bring new folks into an industry that is doing so well compared to the early 2000s,” Lee said.  Overall, the future looks bright for the next generation of pilots, mechanics, and flight attendants. “You are bringing people into an industry that is growing and vibrant, and these jobs are exciting jobs.”

 

To learn more about our interviewees, visit: 

https://www.aa.com/homePage.do https://www.cltairport.com/

https://charlottenc.gov/Pages/Home.aspx

Tourists, Flight Availability Underpin MCO’s Record Growth

Tourists, Flight Availability Underpin MCO’s Record Growth

By: Sara Warden

2 min read February 2020 — Orlando’s tourism industry is going from strength to strength, generating $75.2 billion from 75 million people in 2018. The industry’s success at drawing in new customers benefits almost every other industry in the region, not least aviation. In 2019, Orlando International Airport experienced a record-breaking year, welcoming 50.6 million passengers – a 6.1% increase on the previous year.

“Orlando lnternational’s growth in 2019 is due to a combination of factors,” said Phil Brown, CEO of the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority (GOAA) in a press release. “A strong Central Florida economy, continued innovative attractions being unveiled by the local theme parks, increased air service to new markets around the world and more seats coming into the area all equal record traffic at MCO.”

Currently, 38 airlines operate flights out of Orlando International, and in 2019 seat capacity was increased by 5.9% — around another 3.25 million seats. Most of this growth was generated by Spirit and Frontier, two budget airlines that continue to expand in Orlando. Spirit Airlines announced this month that it would expand the frequency of 16 routes from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and Orlando International Airport in 2020.

“Florida is very important to Spirit Airlines, and we are going to keep growing in the state we call home,” said John Kirby, Vice President of Network Planning for Spirit, in a statement. “As the only major airline headquartered in the Sunshine State, Spirit Airlines continues to add new destinations and more nonstop service to meet the needs of Florida’s growing economy.”

And 2020 is shaping up to be an equally exciting year. According to GOAA, there will be 39 new destinations launched from airlines including Air Canada, Westjet, JetBlue, Emirates, Delta and Virgin Atlantic over the course of the year.

The first half of 2020 is full of exciting new attractions such as Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Cirque du Soleil is also stopping by to perform Drawn to Life, which is sure to make 2020 a year to compete with its predecessor.

And Universal Orlando Resort is planning a new theme park resort, plunging billions of dollars into 700 acres on Universal Boulevard for its Epic Universe. The park is set to integrate the traditional theme parks and rides, as well as hotels, restaurants and other entertainment facilities. “Our vision for Epic Universe will build on everything we have done and become the most immersive and innovative theme park we have ever created. It is an investment in our business, industry, team members and our community,” said Universal Parks & Resorts Chairman and CEO Tom Williams at the unveiling of the project last August.

Orlando International is growing to accommodate this influx of tourists, with $4 billion in construction projects in the pipeline. The new $2.1 billion South Terminal is now 45% complete, will add 19 gates and is scheduled to open by 2021.

 

To learn more, visit:

https://orlandoairports.net/

https://www.spirit.com/

https://www.universalorlando.com/web/en/us

ATLNext Targets New Heights

By Sara Warden

 

2 min read SEPTEMBER 2019 For the 21st consecutive year, Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport was named the world’s busiest airport this month. With passenger traffic of over 107 million in 2018, the airport continues to serve as a major economic driver of the city. Capital Analytics took a closer look at the characteristics that make the airport the world’s transport hub.

ATL is the state of Georgia’s largest employer, generating 63,000 direct on-site jobs and creating an estimated $34.8 billion economic impact for Metro Atlanta – or almost 7% of total state GDP. The 47,000-acre Hartsfield-Jackson facility has 263 concessions, 193 gates, seven concourses, five runways and the tallest control tower in North America, coming in at 121m.

“It’s a complex operation,” Airport General Manager John Selden told How Stuff Works. “One little piece going astray can cause massive chain-reaction ramifications. To keep the complexity of this operation running smoothly, it takes a village.”

But to keep operations running smoothly, the airport must constantly keep up with growing passenger numbers through more and more expansions. “As you look at passenger flow over time, it’s always trying to eliminate the bottleneck,” Tom Nissalke, the airport’s assistant general manager of planning told How Stuff Works. “Sometimes, when you fix one bottleneck then it’s another bottleneck somewhere else.” 

In 2016, the Hartsfield-Jackson Airport unveiled ATLNext, a $6 billion capital investment in the continuous expansion of existing infrastructure. By 2022, a total of $1.9 billion is to be invested in the modernization of the central passenger terminal, which will include aesthetic renovations that involve landscaping and lighting, as well as the extension of Concourse T to add five new gates and the addition of 10 new gates to Concourse G.

To accommodate growing air traffic, $1.3 billion will be invested in airfield upgrades that include a sixth runway, slated to be completed by 2034. Investments in auxiliary services such as parking and a mixed-use hotel and office space development are also planned. Air cargo facility upgrades will come in at around $200 million.

“The infrastructure has to keep up with the growth,” Selden said to Reporter Newspapers. “We cannot turn into [New York’s secondary airport] LaGuardia. My goal and my team’s goal is to do everything we can to work with everybody that we need to [in order to] ensure that Hartsfield-Jackson is not a limiting factor on the growth of the Atlanta region.”

The investment is a joint venture between the public and private sector. A consortium of three companies – CH2M Hill (since acquired by Jacobs), RohadFox and Parsons Transportation Group – won the contract to carry out the ambitious expansion. Overall, PPPs are an innovative idea in airport projects, but could be the future, allowing the public sector to free up funds for other priorities. “I think we’ll see other examples where other companies get involved. And gradually, familiarity builds, and it won’t seem outlandish at some later date when the subject of the whole airport comes up,” said Robert Poole, director of transportation policy at Reason Foundation, in an interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

 

To learn more about our interviewees, visit:

http://next.atl.com/

https://reason.org/

http://www.rohadfox.com/

http://www.jacobs.com/ 

https://www.parsonsgroup.co.uk/