Talon Air has been issued fixed-base operator status at Republic Airport in East Farmingdale, making it the third company at the general aviation airport that's permitted to sell fuel to airplanes.
According to airport manager Shelley LaRose-Arken, who announced the news at a Republic Airport Commission meeting last month, Talon was issued FBO status by the state Department of Transportation, which owns and operates the airport, on Sept. 23. Talon officials said they first submitted paperwork to become an FBO on March 15, 2012.
"It's taken a very long time to get done, a lot of patience and a lot of fortitude," said Talon CEO Adam Katz, adding that the state attorney general, state comptroller's office, Suffolk County and the Federal Aviation Administration also had to approve Talon's FBO and/or fuel sales. "It took a much longer time than I thought it would."
The nearly four-year process cost $5 million, Katz said. Katz said he saw it as one of the last frontiers for Talon to tackle as a full-service charter company.
"I also thought I could bring competition and more jobs to the airport, which would benefit everyone," Katz said last month.
According to aviation website AirNav.com, Talon's fuel prices sit well below the company's competition at Republic, fellow fixed-base operators Atlantic Aviation and Sheltair Aviation Services. Neither company returned a call seeking comment.
The ability to sell fuel is usually seen as the chief financial perk of earning fixed-base operator status, and Talon will be home to a 90,000-gallon fuel farm containing two 30,000-gallon jet fuel storage tanks and a 30,000 avgas storage tank, complete with a backup generator. Avgas is sold to turboprops and smaller, general aviation aircraft, Talon officials said, and jet fuel is used in small to midsized jets used for charter services.
Talon will also be able to provide hangaring, tie-down and enhanced maintenance services at its flagship location at Republic. The company said Talon's FBO is expected to add 21 employees to its workforce.
At the Republic Airport Commission meeting last month, one pilot expressed enthusiasm for Talon's low fuel prices. But another audience member questioned whether there is enough business at Republic, which has seen declining general aviation operations, to support three FBOs.
Talon's newly permitted services also include conference rooms, lounges, a flight planning center, helicopter transfer service, and "the only FAA-approved Part 145 Maintenance Service Center located at Republic Airport" -- a highly regulated facility that can provide repair and maintenance services to the flying public at retail prices, company officials said.
Frank Nocerino, chairman of the commission for 20 years, said the group was not informed of Talon's application to become an FBO until at least a year after it was filed. Though Nocerino acknowledged the commission has no jurisdiction over FBO approvals, he added, "it's not fair to the community -- and they don't have to agree, the community. And we don't have to agree. But at least be upfront and be forward on everything."
Talon officials said it is the duty of the DOT to inform Republic officials when an FBO application has been submitted.
Katz also said he is interested in developing the six parcels of airport land that the state is marketing for long-term leases and hopes to eventually provide additional aviation services on that land.
"More facilities for light airplane users, general aviation users, more facilities related to flying -- hangars, parking," Katz said. "I'm excited about the fact that the six surplus parcels of land at the airport are being brought to market by the state . . . that provides the opportunity for people who are interested to bring their ideas and bring their concepts, and that process will go forward."