Saturday, January 30, 2016

Airport touchdown predicted with Super Bowl nearby • Hollister Municipal Airport (KCVH), San Benito County, California

A Global 600 private jet comes in for the landing at the Hollister Airport Monday afternoon. The Super Bowl may increase the amount of private jets landing there. 

During Super Bowl weekend around the corner, it’s not just footballs and bragging rights expected in the air—but also planes.

The Hollister Jet Center, a private business located at the Hollister Municipal Airport, anticipates an unusual influx of the high-powered flying machines for the destination week and weekend.

The Bay Area is expecting between 1,200 and 1,300 extra jets in addition to normal operations, said Dave Leonardo, president of the center. At the city-owned airport, a former World War II Navy training facility located off Airport Drive, the Federal Aviation Administration has granted up to four landings and two departures an hour, Leonardo said. Typically, the center sees one to two jets per week, he said.

Due to increased air traffic that weekend for the Feb. 7 game, the FAA is requiring pilots at 15 local airports—including Hollister Municipal—to book reservations for arrival and departure times from Feb. 4 through Feb. 8, according to the FAA’s website.

“We are hoping that either when they land or if they’re coming in just in time for the Super Bowl on their way back, they come into Hollister and have dinner or explore the town and see what we have to offer,” said Juli Vieira, the CEO of the San Benito County Chamber of Commerce.

Vieira expected places like the small boutique stores, restaurants, and taxi or limousine services to be most affected by the big sports game and any extra traffic that might pass through town with the private jets, she said.

“I think it just depends on how many land and if they have extra time before or afterwards, whether we’re going to see an increase with revenue in the community,” Vieira said.

In preparation for the onslaught of planes, the jet center doubled its staff from five to 10 people, cleaned the airport, made sure all trucks and ground support services were “up to snuff,” changed oils and filters and made sure everything was in “tip-top shape,” Leonardo said.

The business even added extra telephone lines so potential customers wouldn’t get busy signals and purchased a few extra coffee makers so pilots could have easy access to much-needed caffeine, he explained.

The exact number of flying machines that will touch down in Hollister depends on the size of the winged guests, as there is only so much parking space. A larger jet—the G5—had already made a reservation, meaning at least one private airplane with a 93 foot wingspan, 96 foot long body and nearly 26 foot height will be in Hollister, Leonardo said. But there will be smaller aircraft, too, such as the Learjet 45 that is just shy of 48 feet wide, 59 feet long and 15 feet high, the center president said.

The Hollister airport is unusually well suited to jets because of its long runway. The nearby Reid-Hillview and South County airports cannot land the same planes, as their runways are too short, especially when wet, Leonardo explained.

Employees at the Jet Center are viewing the weekend as an opportunity to shine and hopefully attract future customers. The center boasts of no landing fees, pretty much the same weather as San Jose, and “through-the-fence” agreements with the federal government that allow businesses at adjacent properties to have direct access to the runway, Leonardo explained.

“It really does make this airport special,” Leonardo said of the policy. “We want to appeal to the business people that are going to bring jobs here.”

The agreements would allow employees to bypass a lengthy drive to San Jose or San Francisco, the frustrating search for a parking spot, and the long lines for airport security. Employees at businesses on the neighboring properties could just go around their building to a private jet waiting in a hangar at the back and then taxi to the runway.

The airport is also located just 15 miles south of Highway 101, according to Google Maps. In the case of the Super Bowl crowd, visitors will drive to Highway 101, continue 35 miles and follow signs to the venue, Leonardo said.

The business offers aircraft parking for extended stays and “quick-turn” services where pilots drop off passengers and then hit the skies again.

“What they want from us is ice, coffee and fuel and then they’ll go right back to the runway and off again,” Leonardo said.

Pilots hitting the skies during the Super Bowl weekend won’t have to miss all of the game if they land in Hollister. Hugh’s Vintage Aircraft Museum, operated by Hugh Bickle out of a hanger at the airport, will have a large screen playing the game for all the pilots, Leonardo said.

About the airport

The Hollister Municipal Airport’s main runway stretches 6,350 feet with the second runway stretching 3,300 feet. The runways belong to the city and the Hollister Jet Center is a private business that rents space at the site. The city charges a “tiedown fee” for overnight parking and receives eight cents a gallon for jet fuel sold at the airport.

SOURCE: Mike Chambless, the city’s management services director, who works in public works, code enforcement and with the airport, in an email to the Free Lance.

Airports requiring reservations

San Francisco International
Oakland International
Hayward Executive
Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International
Livermore Municipal
Buchanan Field
Napa County
Charles M. Schultz- Sonoma County
Monterey Regional
Watsonville Municipal
Salinas Municipal
Reid-Hillview Airport of Santa Clara County
Moffett Federal Airfield
San Carlos Airport
Hollister Municipal

Source: National Business Aviation Association’s website

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