In case you thought owning your own private jet was the pinnacle of personal transportation, there’s an even loftier level to take your private travel. It’s your own private hangar.
For most of us, it’s probably something we’ve never even thought about, that whatever solutions have been good enough for decades, might not be good enough anymore.
At least that’s the thought of Tal Keinan, an 18-year veteran of the Israeli Air Force and commercial pilot turned financier and author.
Speaking during a visit to his facility at Miami Opa-Locka Executive Airport, the CEO of Sky Harbour Group says 75% of the soon to be built 12 units already have commitments.
That could be because hearing Keinan tick off a list of problems that come along with sharing hangars would probably make you sign up on the spot.
Any of us who have ever lived in Manhattan and owned a car know you have to find a place to park it, and of course pay for that service. In the world of private aviation, you would typically hangar your plane at an FBO, which is a private jet terminal, but in reality a gas station for private jets.
However Keinan says you don’t rent a specific spot. Planes are wedged together to shelter as many jets as possible.
That means multiple problems. If you want to access your aircraft at the last minute, and it’s in the back of the hangar behind several other planes, it could be a couple hours.
Keinan recalls one incident where an owner wanted to leave on short notice, but the plane blocking his was on jacks. He ended buying an airline ticket.
Another downside of sharing is hangar rash. Even a small dent or bump, something he says happens more than people think, can send your jet to the shop for months.
Then there are the foam fire suppression systems required for large hangars. Apparently nine out of 10 times they go off are false alarms. The damage to your plane could be extensive, sidelining it for months.
And then, get this. Keinan says most contracts allow the FBO to park your airplane outside if needed.
At the same time, Keinan noticed how companies that had large flight departments didn’t have these same problems. With enough scale to have their own hangars, he says operations are much more efficient.
They don’t have to worry scheduling maintenance or having somebody from the FBO moving their airplane in the parking garage, and well, who knows what will happen.
Sky Harbour customers will get that Fortune 500 CEO experience is the promise. Almost like row houses, the series of 12 private hangars allows each customer to have their own distinct space, including direct private access.
Instead of having your Bentley sitting in the sun or snow, the garage door opens from the street and into your private hangar next to your plane.
When you’re ready Sky Harbour provides pushback services to tow your plane out of the hangar. With no other aircraft to block you, you get the full luxury of being able to depart as soon as your pilots are ready.
There’s also office space, a lounge, kitchen, restrooms, storage, and even laundry.
In addition to Miami, Sugar Land Regional Airport in Houston and Nashville International Airport have been announced. Keinan says the company has identified several dozen more airports in the U.S. where it hopes to set up shop.
So how much does it cost?
Keinan says it is hard to make a direct comparison. FBOs will discount rental fees knowing they make it up by selling you fuel. On the other hand, Sky Harbour brings the buying power of the tenants across its locations. He also says you save money by having “unfettered access for maintenance and inspections.”
COVID-19 has increased interest both from UHNWs as well as small corporate flight departments and even Part 135 private jet and jet card operators whose clienteles are looking to minimize potential exposure to the virus.
“We don’t have other customers going through your space. You don’t have to worry about touching the door handles,” he says.