Company plans service center at Kendall airport
By Suzanne Schmidt
Falcon Air Trust plans to launch a luxury fixed-based operation and lounging area for corporate and executive travelers at Kendall-Tamiami Airport.
The company adds to growing development of the general aviation airport's private services.
Falcon plans to serve private corporate airlines and their passengers with amenities to include a conference room, a sauna, computer rooms, a private movie theater and a fitness center.
"It is what one expects if you are walking into the Ritz with marble floors," said Albert Sotero, CEO of Falcon.
Co-founders Albert and Edward Sotero plan to open the Falcon operation today (6/16) in a 22,000-square-foot, three-story, Mediterranean-style building and 96,000-square-foot hangar area for airline use. Planning for the $13 million facility, Albert Sotero said, took five years, with development beginning in 2002.
He said he chose the Kendall airport because he is a pilot and has been coming to the airport since he was 16 years old.
The fixed-based company is one of 76 in the world, according to Albert Sotero. The 50 employees cater to the service line of airplanes and customer quality.
Albert Sotero said the airport has clients from Ocean Reef and downtown Miami. Corporate sponsors and clients are expected to increase during race events at Homestead-Miami Speedway in November, he said.
Michael Handrahan, operations manager for Kendall-Tamiami Airport, said private jet travel has risen since 9/11 because of increased security measures at commercial airports.
"They are going more for corporate jets, which are at Tamiami, and new business is going on in the area," Albert Sotero said.
"The customers pay 20% to 30% more than normal airline fares but do not have to wait to get onto the plane or wait to get off," said Albert Sotero. "The airport cannot handle commercial airlines, so we will add to the service of executive jets."
Kendall-Tamiami Airport, 14150 SW 129th St. in unincorporated Miami-Dade County, sits on approximately 1,300 acres and has more than 500,000 square feet of aviation buildings and hangars.
Falcon Air Trust will be the largest investment facility at the airport, said Greg Chin, Miami-Dade Aviation Department spokesman. Kendall-Tamiami airport's 2005 budget is 0.3% of the county's aviation department revenue with about $1.3 million, he said.
"We are now actively pursuing development and seeking leases at the airport," Mr. Handrahan said, "rather than only waiting for potential leaseholders to approach us."