By Karen Di Piazza
Castle & Cooke Aviation Services Inc., a subsidiary of Castle & Cooke Inc., recently acquired fixed base operations at Honolulu International Airport (HNL) and Paine Field/Snohomish County Airport (PAE) in Everett, Wash.
David H. Murdock, a high school dropout worth $4.7 billion, is the sole owner of Castle & Cooke Inc. The hands-on owner, featured in Forbes’ 400 in October, also owns Dole Food Company Inc. He serves as chairman and CEO of both C&C and Dole, which is the largest producer of fresh fruits, vegetables and flowers in the world, and has operations in more than 90 countries and employs 63,000 people.
For decades, Murdock has been an active participant in business aviation. He regularly makes rounds to check on his various empires, including trips to a research campus in North Carolina dedicated to nutrition, in which the self-proclaimed “health nut” has invested $1.5 billion. He makes those trips in a Bombardier Global Express purchased in 2003 through Dole. Maintained by the company’s in-house flight department, the aircraft is operated under FAR Part 91.
As vice president of operations, Craig Walker oversees Dole’s flight department. He also oversees all aspects of flight operations and pilot and passenger needs at C&CA’s facilities, including training and standardizing of FBO services. A 35-year aviation veteran, Walker has experience as a pilot, in aircraft maintenance and management of ground operations.
Van Nuys Airport
C&CA opened its first full-service FBO at Van Nuys Airport (VNY) in California in 1981. Since then, Murdock has developed various aircraft hangars and office structures there. He’s enjoyed revenue from noted operators, such as Elite Aviation, an on-demand FAR Part 135 charter carrier. Elite, a long-time tenant of C&CA’s FBO facility, operates several company-owned Gulfstreams and other turbine aircraft for charter customers.
Eclipse Aviation, based in Albuquerque, N.M., recently opened its service center at one of C&CA’s hangar facilities. Laura Wayne, C&CA’s new director of sales and marketing, said the first Eclipse 500 underwent service at the airframer’s new hangar facility in early October. Wayne said Dole placed an order for three Eclipse 500s in October 2006, and that when they’re delivered, the VLJs will supplement company personnel travel.
Wayne, a 25-year aviation veteran, worked as the former charter management vice president at The Air Group, sales manager for Jet Aviation and account manager for Universal Weather. In her new role with C&CA, her expertise will lend to further sales and marketing for expansion at VNY, Paine Field and in Honolulu.
Murdock’s company, among other real estate holdings throughout the world, owns two of the highest-rated Four Seasons resorts and golf courses in Hawaii, on the island of Lanai; Murdock has 98 percent ownership of Lanai, once known as the “Pineapple Island.” Additionally, the company’s developments include master planned communities on the island of Oahu.
C&CA’s first Hawaii-based FBO
C&CA’s FBO expansions are part of the company’s strategic plans to develop a first-class chain of FBOs and aviation assets across the nation.
“In June, C&CA purchased the former Circle Rainbow building in Hawaii, which sat vacant for five years,” Wayne said. “Class-A renovations are underway.”
Improvements include a new FBO customer service facility, an additional aircraft parking area, a complete office renovation, additional parking lots and several hangar improvements. When completed, the facility will feature more than 20,000 square feet of hangar space and 60,000 square feet of office space, with room for additional hangar construction. The facility will have an elegant lobby/reception area, a pilot’s rest area and flight planning center, two large conference rooms, private visitor executive offices and shower and restroom facilities. The departure lounge, of course, will offer fresh Dole fruits.
FBO services will include professional aircraft fueling and aircraft services, along with aircraft maintenance, cleaning and catering. Wayne said Murdock’s vision for the company’s future doesn’t include plans to provide FAR Part 135 on-demand air charter services.
“We’re excited to bring this beautiful building back to life as a new FBO,” says Murdock, who has a second home in Hawaii.
Paine Field’s new FBO facilities
Everett Jet Center, also known as Fliteline Services, is a full-service FBO that’s been providing aircraft fueling and aircraft ground services for more than 35 years. C&CA will work with the current management to upgrade and expand the aircraft services program.
Jim Wilkinson and Terry Wilcoxson are now members of the C&CA team. Wilkinson established EJC in early1971. The seasoned FBO manager, with substantial experience in operations, fuel management and commercial transport ground handling, remains in that position. Wilcoxson has worked for EJC for most of his career and now serves as operations manager. He has more than 30 years of aircraft fueling experience and has an aircraft and power plant certification from the Federal Aviation Administration. He teaches an accredited seminar on fuel handling and is an expert on all aspects of fuel operations.
Paine Field, 20 miles north of downtown Seattle, has a 9,010-foot ILS equipped runway and has more than 500 based aircraft. C&CA’s plans include a new 24-acre land lease on the west side of the airport, allowing for the development of a new corporate FBO facility.
Construction plans initially call for two 40,000-square-foot hangars, a state-of-the-art customer service facility, a large transient ramp complete with de-icing capability, substantial vehicle parking and more than 20,000 square feet of world-class office space for tenants.
The FBO customer service facility will have an elegantly appointed departure lounge (with more complimentary Dole foods and beverages), a flight-planning center and a gymnasium complete with showers and private restrooms. The facility will house multiple executive conference rooms and private executive visitor offices.
“We plan to create the finest FBO in the Seattle area, through the combination of excellent services offered by Everett Jet Center and our FBO development,” said Steve Friedmann, executive vice president of C&CA.
He explained that with some of the challenges at Boeing Field/King County International Airport (BFI), Paine Field is becoming an increasingly attractive alternative in the Seattle area.
“As Seattle’s corporate fleet continues to grow, Paine Field will be the general aviation airport of choice for discriminating private aviation users, with sufficient land to develop both community hangars and build-to-suit opportunities,” he said.
For more information, visit [http://www.castlecookeaviation.com].