On 24 February 1930, at a Qantas Director’s meeting in Longreach, the company resolved ‘that the office of the company be established in the city of Brisbane….on or before 30 June’ and tenders were called for the supply and erection of a hangar at Archerfield.
Hangar 005 was subsequently erected by Sidney Williams & Co and occupied in January 1931 and when Qantas Empire Airways was established in 1934, their DH-86 Dragon Rapide aircraft, used for the overseas airmail routes, were serviced there.
Those with an eye for history and perhaps wanting to ensure that none of our aviation history is lost will welcome the news that Hangar 005 has now been significantly restored and has returned to life as a new FBO offering a full, premium service under the watchful and caring hands of Directors Mark Peart and Phil Walker, both of whom are experienced aviators.
Like many new Aviation ventures, the concept for a new approach to client service was floated over dinner and a few beers. Mark Peart’s and Phil Walker’s careers had earlier crossed paths when the company for which Phil flew chose to engage with Mark’s jet management and charter company Light Jets Australia (LJA).
‘What I felt was missing in the LJA value proposition was a “shop front” for want of a better word’ says Mark. ‘I knew I had a pretty comprehensive offering in place but felt it could be taken further by providing clients with a more effective base and some additional solutions that could deliver a totally rounded corporate experience.’
The many years both Mark and Phil had flying and managing corporate jets lead them to focus on South East Queensland where they believed a significant opportunity existed to establish and develop a better proposition for corporate jet owners.
‘We had both been flying business owners and high net worth individuals and we knew what was important to them’ says Phil Walker. ‘We knew that most were time poor and most were looking for ways to increase their productivity and efficiency. There was a lot of frustration building up, particularly flying into Brisbane International where business jet holding patterns were becoming extensive. The logical thing for us to do was to establish an operation in a location where clients could fly in and fly out without holding or air traffic delays.’
The logical progression was to investigate Archerfield Airport where both Mark and Phil knew there was no FBO competition. ‘We saw this as a sensible location and one with considerable potential’ recalls Mark. ‘We knew there was no FBO servicing the Brisbane West precinct and we saw Archerfield as a strategic location, given its proximity and ease of access to the Brisbane CBD.’
‘We knew we needed something large because we were proposing to take the concept of a FBO to another level’ recalls Phil. ‘We weren’t looking just at the charter aspects. We also wanted to include aircraft storage, under-cover parking for vehicles and comprehensive reception and flight lounge facilities. We were aware that Hangar 5, which had a floor area of close to 2400 square metres, was available for rent and we approached Archerfield Airport Corporation (AAC) with an expression of interest to lease it.’ A detailed business plan was written which demonstrated to the Board of AAC that the proposed concept and the marketing strategy could support a FBO in the medium to long term.
The essence of the Archerfield Jet Base proposition is to present what the Directors see as the future of private aviation. ‘We were looking for something more than just a hangar and we are determined to provide a “full service” proposition’ says Mark. ‘We’ve got a full time employee on-site, we offer to pull a client’s aircraft out when they want to go flying and re-hangar it on return. We’ll re-fuel it they wish, provide them with access to our air-conditioned corporate lounge on arrival and return and we also have boardroom facilities, refreshments and on-site under-cover car parking available at call. It’s not just a storage arrangement we’re looking at, its full service and what we believe the future should look like.’
Initial interest in the AJB proposition has been strong. ‘We’re only just completing renovations and we’re already at 65% capacity’ says Phil Walker. ‘We’re hoping that by the end of the year we’ll be at 100% fixed wing aircraft on board and there’s still room for up to five helicopters. It’s an easy airport to arrive and depart from, we’ve got enough room to accommodate overnight aircraft and vehicle storage under cover and we’ve had a lot of interest from local private aircraft owners.
Our original intention was to focus primarily on corporate aircraft, but because a lot of owners of Cirrus, Baron, Cessna twins and similar aircraft are expressing interest, we’ve gone back to the AAC to see what we might be able to do to extend our service offerings in 2017. It’s not out of the question that we could utilise additional adjacent hangar space and use Hangar 005 as a hub.’ ‘We’ll certainly be working on that proposition which will give more owners access to the incredible facilities we have developed here.’