Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Beverly Regional Airport (KBVY) prepares for busy time ahead, future

North Atlantic Air president John Messenger 



BEVERLY — Business is up at the Beverly Regional Airport, after several years of dropping numbers for takeoffs and landings. And it's about to get even busier.

Last year the airport logged 51,105 operations (takeoffs or landings), up from 44,206 in 2014. Over the last seven years, the airport posted its highest numbers in 2010, with 61,000 operations. After dropping for a few years, it has been on a steady increase.

"The traffic count is definitely up and the designation from municipal to regional has had a big effect on our perception in the aviation world," said August Faulstich, vice chairman of the Airport Commission.

Now, airport officials are preparing for an influx of people flying in for the U.S Senior Open at the Salem Country Club June 26 through July 2.

"We (may) even have planes parking on the taxiway because we anticipate running out of room," said airport manager Bob Snuck.

They expect a number of golfers to be coming in on corporate jets, which make up a lot of the airport's traffic even without the tournament.

The airport pumps just over $32.5 million each year into the economy, according to numbers released by the state Department of Transportation in 2014. Airport visitors may spend money dining out at local restaurants or staying in local hotels, Snuck explained.

Beverly happens to be the third-busiest small airport in the state; that doesn't include large airports like Logan in Boston.

In addition to visiting aircraft, the airport has more than 100 planes based there, Snuck said.




Sprucing things up

The airport has also undergone some upgrades recently. Last year it opened a new, $4.2 million administration building. Most of that was funded by the state.

On the Danvers side, North Atlantic Air, Inc. is under new ownership. The company serves as the airport's fixed-base operator, which means it helps with reservations, coordinates when planes are coming in, and can coordinate fueling for aircraft and catering. The company also does maintenance and can also do customs and immigration, as well as international waste removal, according to John Messenger, one of its owners.

Since taking ownership last November, Messenger and Nicholas Burlingham, his business partner, have upgraded their facilities with a new kitchenette and comfortable pilot's lounge with armchairs and a big-screen television.

More plans are in the works. Over the next four years, they plan to demolish the current office and some of the hangars and have them rebuilt to meet the needs of current planes and crew.

He said the service level at the airport has "increased dramatically."

"We're putting our best foot forward," Messenger said.




No bids for restaurant

What the airport still lacks is a restaurant. A second bidding period on the city-owned space within Building 45 yielded no results when it closed last week, Faulstich said. Officials are now advertising the space nationally, hoping to be noticed by a larger chain.

"We need to have a restaurant site at the airport," Faulstich said.

Pilots have to complete three landings and takeoffs every 90 days, Snuck said. For some, this means flying to a nearby airport, getting lunch, and flying back. Some airports even schedule a "fly in" event to attract pilots to a scheduled breakfast.

That can't be done in Beverly.

The nearby industrial park may also draw patrons, Snuck noted, whether it's for lunch or for dinner after work.

Even without the restaurant, both noted that the airport is doing well, and there's "no danger" of it not being around in the foreseeable future.

Story and photo gallery:  http://www.salemnews.com

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