By Bill Ainsworth
January 11, 2011
With increasing operations and aviation fuel sales, Lone Star Executive Airport appears to have weathered the economic downturn, and things are looking up.
Scott Smith, director of the Montgomery County-owned airport, says day-to-day operations are steadily increasing from the 200 private and corporate aircraft based at Lone Star as well as increasing visits by transient private and corporate aircraft.
“Small, private aircraft operations were down 15 percent in 2010, but we are starting to see some increased activity, and all of our T-hangars for private planes are leased,” Smith said.
A planned runway extension and new hangar construction projects indicate a positive swing in the airport’s future.
The general aviation reliever airport now serves private and corporate aircraft with a 6,000-foot primary runway, full instrument approach system and new control tower. The primary runway will be extended to 7,500 feet in 2012, along with a full parallel taxiway. The crosswind runway is 5,000 feet long with a concrete surface.
“With the primary runway extension, we also expect an increase in transient military aircraft which will increase fuel sales,” Smith said.
In 2010, the airport logged 70,000 take-offs and landings, with $750,000 in annual fuel sales. The annual operating budget of $460,000 is funded by fuel sales and ground leases for hangars and aircraft service companies.
Three fixed-base operators provide aviation fueling services, along with aircraft maintenance, flight training, aircraft charters and sales.
Wing Aviation operates a jet charter service from Lone Star to “anywhere on the globe,” said CEO Jeff Reid.
“We are seeing positive charter growth out of Lone Star and corporate aviation is improving nationwide,” Reid said. “The market for used corporate jets is also improving, and this is a very good time to buy a jet.”
The airport is also a training and maintenance base for the U.S. Army Reserve’s 1st Battalion, 158th Aviation Regiment with 24 Apache AH-64D “Longbow” attack helicopters. The Army facility employs 400 military and civilian personnel.
Hangar development continues on the airport with several private owners currently building and planning to build facilities over the next few years.
The Montgomery County Commissioners Court recently approved contracts for new hangar facilities. Black Forest Ventures of The Woodlands will build a new hangar and fixed-base service facility on a 15-acre site in the airport’s South Terminal Development. The Black Forest facility is expected to open in the third quarter of 2012.
Ratcliff Corp. has a hangar under construction and Aviation Assets has a hangar design pending.
The City of Conroe will soon close on the purchase of a 240-acre site next to the airport for development of a business and technical park.