By S. Clayton Moore
Ambassador Aviation is changing the face of Dallas Executive Airport. The new fixed base operator, owned by Stanley Moussa and his son, George, has just completed a new 18,000-square-foot hangar at the airport and will have a new 5,200-square-foot adjoining office complex open by March. The new additions give the operation over 18 acres of ground leases and 160,000 square feet of hangar space in total.
Their expansion is capitalizing on the transformation of Dallas Executive from a relatively unknown general aviation facility into a state-of-the-art corporate aviation destination. Formerly known as Redbird Airport, the airport has benefited from a significant investment by the City of Dallas, which embarked on a major revitalization effort four years ago.
The city has replaced the 1962 terminal building with a new facility that will open in September and has also built a new control tower that could be ready as soon as early spring. The effort has also sparked the impressive investment from the father-and-son team, who are relative newcomers to the aviation field. The Moussas have spent over $2.5 million preparing their new business and expect to spend about $5 million this year.
“We started looking at Dallas Love Field and it was full and then Addison Airport was full. We drove down to Dallas Executive Airport and we were very impressed. It’s very much a diamond in the rough,” Stanley Moussa said of his inspiration for Ambassador Aviation.
Stanley Moussa, who came to the U.S. from Cairo, Egypt, in the early 1950s to study chemical engineering at the University of Oklahoma, went on to form several large import/export companies. Attracted by the Dallas World Trade Center, he moved his operations to Dallas in 1959. Along with two sons, he built up his businesses exporting American furniture to Europe and the Middle East. Those businesses are still operating today and help to fund Ambassador Aviation.
George Moussa became interested in flying as a young man and bought two Bonanzas. As he went looking for a place to house his planes, father and son got more and more interested in the aviation business.
“We found a hangar here and fell in love with it. We talked to the leaseholder and a couple of months later, we bought him out. We ended up with 160,000 square feet of T-hangars, a fuel farm, and a prime location. Suddenly, we are now running a full-fledged FBO,” Stanley Moussa said of buying out Dallas Aircraft Services early in 2004.
The airport is also poised to capitalize on Dallas’ efforts to push development towards its southern sector. Dallas Executive and the surrounding area has been classed as an enterprise zone, giving tax relief, rebates and abatement to companies that bring jobs to this part of Dallas. The city has attracted more than $10 million in private investment while building the new terminal and control tower as well as branding the airport’s new name.
“Things have really been looking up the past five years or so and we are seeing big changes in this airport,” said Marvin Poole, airport manager. “Right now everyone is basically positioning themselves for when the economy gets better and corporate aviation starts to flourish again. We’re putting in a lot of infrastructure and a lot of facilities right now. With the changes we have made, we’ll be in a position to take advantage of that upswing.”
The Moussas are also capitalizing on that development with the construction of their new hangar, the first of its size to go up at the airport in more than 20 years. Large enough to comfortably handle a Gulfstream GV, the 120- by 150-foot hangar has a 28-foot clearance, sliding power doors, high power capabilities, efficiency lighting and quick access to the runway.
They’ve also added on a 5,200-square-foot, state-of-the-art office facility with a sculpted round entrance and a three-story canopy tall enough to run a Gulfstream GV underneath.
“It’s been very difficult and expensive to build, but we thought since our FBO and canopy is right next to the city’s new terminal, it should be a big addition,” Moussa said.
Although the hangar hasn’t yet been leased, he has high hopes to bring a major company into Dallas Executive Airport.
“We’re looking for a corporation or some other large entity who wants to come in from out of state and either expand their operation or move to Dallas,” Moussa said. “Here they can have a very large hangar that takes up to GV-sized aircraft or less and has offices right next to it.”
It’s a struggle for the residents of Dallas Executive to change its reputation. Since 1990, flight operations have dropped from 132,000 landings to just 91,000 in 2004. However, businesses at the airport are confident that the airport’s new developments as well as its close proximity to the city will attract new users.
“It’s the same size as Love Field and it’s only 10 miles and a stoplight from Downtown Dallas,” Moussa said. “It was just neglected for many years and this airport is not very well known even in Dallas. We still have 600 acres of undeveloped land. This airport needs all the attention it can get and anything that can help us promote it and show people how great it is gives us an advantage.”
Poole agreed that the time is right for Dallas Executive to shine.
“I think that everything is coming along at a good time politically, because the southern sector of Dallas is seeing this new wave of development. We’re getting support not only from the airport and the city, but also from the whole southern sector. We’re going to see some action,” Poole predicted.
While it has been a significant investment, the Moussas are also confident that they have chosen wisely in building Ambassador Aviation.
“The aviation company is a new venture for both George and me, but we’re in it for the long term, and we’ve put our own money into it,” Moussa said. “We didn’t borrow any capital, so we’ve tried to do things in the most efficient way possible, but everything we’ve done here is first-class.”