The Americas: Top 5 Percent

Frequent fliers rate airport facilities providing fuel, service, and more.

View the rating charts for the 2023 AIN FBO Survey: The Americas

Pentastar Aviation at Michigan's Oakland County International Airport (KPTK) was again rated highest among service providers in BJT sister publication AIN's recently released 2023 AIN FBO Survey: The Americas. Part One of the survey covers facilities in North, Central, and South America, as well as the Caribbean. Survey results for the rest of the world will be released on May 1.

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Pentastar earned an average 4.78 rating from AIN readers who evaluated thousands of aircraft handling facilities on a 1-to-5 scale in five categories: line service, passenger amenities, pilot amenities, facilities, and CSRs. Second place, with a 4.77 overall score, was a tie between American Aero FTW at Fort Worth Meacham International Airport (KFTW) in Texas and Sheltair Tampa (KTPA) in Florida. The latter tied Pentastar for first place last year.

Two facilities earned a 4.73 average rating and tied for third place: Banyan Air Service at Florida's Fort Lauderdale Executive (KFXE) and Wilson Air Center at Memphis International (KMEM) in Tennessee. Henriksen Jet Center at Houston Executive (KTME) and Jet Aviation at Florida’s Palm Beach International (KPBI) tied for fourth place with an average score of 4.72. Fifth place was a three-way tie with Henriksen Jet Center Austin (KEDC), Sheltair Fort Lauderdale International (KFLL), and Sheltair Rocky Mountain Metropolitan (KBJC) all receiving a 4.71 average score.

Top 5 Percent

4.78, Pentastar Aviation, Oakland County International Airport (KPTK), Pontiac, Michigan

Occupying the top position in the FBO Survey for the third-year running is Pentastar Aviation. It ranked among the top 10 in all five survey categories this year—the only location to achieve that status. To ensure that it continues to exceed the expectations of its clients, it recently added the director of customer experience position to its leadership team.

Standing out among the gaggle of service providers at Oakland County International Airport in Michigan, the company traces its existence back nearly 60 years to its roots as the flight department for the Chrysler Corporation. It eventually extended its services to other jet operators, and in 2001 it was purchased by Edsel B. Ford II, the great-grandson of automaker Henry Ford.

Pentastar, which is open and staffed 24/7, is a full-service FBO offering a broad slate of capabilities from aircraft management and charter to 24-hour maintenance and interior refurbishments. One distinctive feature is its in-house kitchen, Fivestar Gourmet, which supplies catering to aircraft operators as well as meals to FBO customers and airport workers. It has even expanded its catering service to other airports in the area.

The complex includes 155,000 square feet of hangar space and 10 acres of reinforced ramp space. It has a pair of terminals with the main 5,000-square-foot building offering passenger lounges, multimedia-equipped conference rooms, and the Fivestar Café.

Unique among FBOs, Pentastar has its own jet bridge, attached to the 10,000-square-foot, two-story satellite Stargate terminal. It is specially equipped to handle large charter flights such as sports teams, with its own baggage carousel, departure lounge, and workstations.

On one of the few remaining undeveloped parcels of land at KPTK, the company is about to break ground on a $11 million expansion that will add a pair of 25,000-square-foot hangars and 8,000 square feet of passenger lounge and offices.

Last summer, the Avfuel-branded location achieved Stage 2 registration under the International Standard for Business Aircraft Handling (IS-BAH).

4.77, American Aero FTW, Fort Worth Meacham International Airport (KFTW), Fort Worth

American Aero FTW’s facility was designed from the start to incorporate virtually every feature to improve the customer experience, and it has certainly accomplished that goal, according to AIN’s readers who have placed it firmly in the top 5 percent of all FBOs since 2017 when its current facility opened. This year, the company scored in the top 10 in four of the five survey categories: passenger amenities (4.73), pilot amenities (4.73), facilities (4.77), and CSRs (4.85).

The 8,600-sq-ft terminal adjacent to the U.S. Customs facility features an array of technologies and amenities such as self-tinting glass windows, white noise speakers embedded in the lobby walls along with sound dampening materials to provide a tranquil environment, a private lounge for groups of up to 12 people, a fully-soundproofed snooze room complete with a one-ton door, shower facilities, a crew dining room with china service, a well-stocked refreshment bar, 25-seat A/V-equipped conference room, and even a high-speed dishwasher for aircraft service items during quick turns. It offers 80 covered parking spaces to protect customer vehicles from the harsh Texas sun and complimentary high-speed Wi-Fi throughout the terminal and ramp. “Every detail of the customer experience has been considered and our team takes that attentiveness to the next level by delivering the highest standard of customer service,” said general manager Angela Thurmond.

The Signature Select-badged FBO occupies a 34-acre leasehold at FTW, with 255,000 sq ft of hangar space capable of sheltering the latest ultra-long-range business jets. It expects to break ground soon on an additional 40,000 sq ft of aircraft storage.

From its start in 2012, safety has always been the cornerstone of the company, as it was the world’s first to achieve Stage 1 and Stage 3 IS-BAH registration and was recertified as Stage 3 in 2021. The location is normally open from 6 a.m. until 10 p.m. every day with after-hours callouts available.

4.77, Sheltair, Tampa International Airport (KTPA), Tampa, Florida

A top performer in the AIN FBO Survey throughout its nearly two-decade existence, Sheltair Tampa was among the highest scorers this year in the line service (4.81), passenger amenities (4.77), pilot amenities (4.73), and facilities (4.79) categories, making it one of only three FBOs to score 4.7 or higher in every category.

While most FBOs have warehouses and fuel terminals as their neighbors, that is not the case with Sheltair Tampa. KTPA’s central location means customers are not resigned to vending machines, with an upscale shopping district and fine dining restaurants just across the street from the Avfuel-supplied FBO.

One of the notable features of the IS-BAH Stage 2-registered location, which is adjacent to the U.S. Customs facility, is its iconic 13,000-square-foot aircraft arrivals canopy, which protects passengers from Florida’s alternately intense sunshine or rain. Sheltair is about to embark on a $1.4 million renovation of the complex’s 8,300-square-foot, two-story terminal that will completely reconfigure its interior to improve customer service flow.

Its 150,000 square feet of hangar space—which can hold aircraft up to the size of a Global 7500—will soon be augmented by the opening of a long-awaited $20 million expansion that will add more than 77,000 square feet of aircraft shelter, 32,000 square feet of office space, and nearly two acres to the ramp. Next year, the FBO is also planning to add another 50,000-square-foot hangar capable of sheltering aircraft up to the size of a BBJ.

“Demand for hangar space in the Florida market has seen rapid growth in recent years,” said general manager James Toler. “With our soon-to-be-completed hangar development, we are rising to meet the growing demand for hangar and class A office space.”

4.73, Banyan Air Service, Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport (KFXE), Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Banyan Air Service, one of four FBOs at Fort Lauderdale’s dedicated general aviation airport, has come a long way from its 1979 founding as a small aircraft maintenance facility. Today it is the world’s largest FBO, occupying more than 120 acres at KFXE and offering aircraft operators virtually every service they might require.

True to its maintenance roots, the facility offers a full Part 145 repair station, avionics shop, engine shop, paint shop, and parts department. Home to a flock of 185 turbine-powered aircraft in addition to hundreds of piston aircraft, Banyan manages 360,000 square feet of hangar space (over one million square feet including offices). This includes the Sheltair-built Northside complex across the field, which opened in 2020 and added 160,000 square feet of hangars and a 9,500-square-foot satellite terminal.

The 14,000-square-foot main terminal features an airy two-story, Key West-themed atrium, including a separate TV lounge, a waterfall, an 800-gallon saltwater aquarium, palm trees, and paddle fans; three pilot lounges; a trio of a/v-equipped conference rooms seating six, 10, and 30 respectively; two snooze rooms; a business center; and a duty-free shop. Also, part of the complex are the world’s largest pilot shop and the Jetway Café, a popular breakfast and lunch destination that is run by a local caterer.

Combined, they all served to give the FBO its top-10 scores in the passenger amenities (4.72) and facilities (4.80) categories.

Due to its location, the IS-BAH Stage 2 facility, which has a staff of 190, serves as a gateway to the Caribbean, offering travel assistance and documentation services for the Bahamas and other island destinations. The company has patiently awaited the institution of Bahamas customs pre-clearance and even has a facility earmarked for its eventual introduction.

 The Avfuel-branded FBO is also well known throughout Central and South America as well as with operators in those areas scheduling their maintenance at Banyan to coincide with trips to the U.S. Banyan’s line service staff recently transitioned to 100 percent paperless, which has reduced the communications required between its line staff and CSRs by 80 percent.

4.73, Wilson Air Center, Memphis International Airport (KMEM), Memphis, Tennessee

Though Wilson Air Center may be a small FBO chain with just four locations in Tennessee, Texas, and North Carolina, the company, with its ties to the Holiday Inn chain, knows a lot about hospitality, and it shows.

Bearing the name of its late patriarch, Kemmons Wilson, who also founded the hotel brand, the family-owned company brings those service flourishes to all its locations including its flagship Memphis FBO, which earned its highest score this year in the CSR category (4.80).

“We pride ourselves on outstanding customer service and attention to detail,” said general manager David Peacock, who added that the company also pioneered the use of a “hotel style” concierge to enhance the service level of the FBO. “The concierge will meet each arriving and departing aircraft to take the stress out of travel for the customer.”

A major feature of the facility is its 26,000-square-foot aircraft canopy, one of the largest in the world. The company looks to bring every arriving aircraft under that canopy no matter how large or small. AINs readers clearly appreciate that capability, awarding the location a top 10 score in the facilities category (4.75).

The 5,700-square-foot terminal includes a passenger lounge, a business center, conference rooms, a pilot lounge with a snooze room, and a refreshment bar featuring local favorite Blue Bell ice cream year-round. A separate 730-square-foot VIP handling area with en suite bathroom is aimed at professional and collegiate sports teams. The location also placed among the leaders this year in the passenger amenities category (4.73).

The facility, which has 35 NATA Safety 1st trained employees and is open 24/7, occupies nearly 18 acres at KMEM. It offers 108,000 square feet of heated hangar space, which can accommodate aircraft up to the size of a Bombardier Global 6000, and is home to 26 jets and turboprops.

4.72, Henriksen Jet Center, Houston Executive Airport (KTME), Houston

While most of the FBOs that placed highly in the AIN FBO Survey are at municipally operated, publicly owned airports, Henriksen Jet Center at privately owned Houston Executive Airport breaks that mold as it is operated by the same company that owns the airport.

The 23,300-square-foot terminal, which opened in 2013, is staffed 24/7/365. It includes 8,000 square feet of tenant office space, as well as a two-story lobby with an authentic Ferrari 333SP race car on display, floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the ramp, a crew suite with theater room, shower facilities, a pair of snooze/quiet rooms, a kitchenette and dining area, a flight-planning room, 10-seat A/V-equipped conference room, a refreshment bar, and concierge service. A complimentary valet parking garage is available to customers. Those features served to give the facility the highest overall score (4.78) in the pilot amenities category in this year’s survey.

A benefit of being the only service provider on the field is that the FBO has free reign over more than 10.5 acres of ramp. “We have recently put in practice a customer service ramp agent, who is able to offer a friendly face while greeting our customers, and who can provide quick and efficient service while communicating with our line service team,” said Andrew Perry, executive director of the company’s airports in Houston and Austin.

The FBO offers nearly 180,000 sq ft of hangar space including a 23,000-square-foot hangar with 3,000 square feet of office space that opened last year. Home to 65 business jets and turboprops, the facility can accommodate the latest offerings from Gulfstream and Bombardier. It also has, at 33,000 square feet, what is believed to be the world’s largest aircraft canopy, sheltering three-quarters of an acre, with a center height of 53 feet. This contributed to the location’s high score in the facilities category (4.80), the third-highest score overall.

4.72, Jet Aviation, Palm Beach International Airport (KPBI), West Palm Beach, Florida

As a global FBO operator with more than 30 locations including eight in the U.S., Jet Aviation is well known to the business aviation industry, and its lone Florida facility at Palm Beach International Airport has continually impressed AIN’s readership with its highest score tally this year being a 4.79 in the CSR category.

According to general manager Nuno Da Silva, his 53-person staff with an average tenure of 20 years is crucial to the Air Elite FBO Network location’s success. “The critical differentiating factors that set us apart from our competition are primarily our people and their longevity at Jet Aviation Palm Beach,” he told AIN. “This degree of experience enables us to provide a safety-driven environment, and by familiarizing ourselves with our clients' needs and preferences, we are able to create a memorable experience every time they visit us.”

The main 18,000-square-foot, two-story terminal, which is staffed 24/7, has served since the company began operations there in 1985 and has been renovated several times. The building includes an executive lounge, a conference room, a business center, a pilot lounge with snooze room and showers, a flight planning area, and a refreshment bar offering treats such as freshly squeezed lemonade, warm cookies, tropical flavored slushies, and local favorite Rich’s ice cream.

It was rated among the top facilities in the pilot amenities category (4.69) in this year’s survey. The facility also shares the recently opened satellite FBO on the northwest side of the field with fellow General Dynamics subsidiary Gulfstream.

Like all of the Jet Aviation locations, the KPBI facility has achieved Stage 2 registration under IS-BAH.

The 25-acre complex has more than half a million square feet of ramp space and 200,000 square feet of hangars, which can handle anything up to a BBJ-class aircraft. It is home to 62 jets and turboprops.

4.71, Henriksen Jet Center, Austin Executive Airport (KEDC), Austin, Texas

For the sixth consecutive year, Henriksen Jet Center, the FBO at privately owned Austin Executive Airport, has placed in the top 5 percent of all FBOs, according to AIN’s readers. More remarkably, the facility has also earned the top score among all FBOs in the passenger amenities category during that same span, and this year it tallied the second-highest score in the facilities category (4.82). Like its sister at Houston Executive Airport, it is a Paragon Aviation Group member, and as in Houston, the company owns both the airport and the FBO.

The 22,500-square-foot terminal at KEDC features an airy two-story, glass-sheathed lobby, with an Olympus engine from the former Concorde jetliner on display as a focal point along with a fully restored 1914 Indian motorcycle in a glass case. Among the amenities are a pilot lounge with quiet rooms equipped with the latest in massage chairs, shower facilities, a luxurious theater room with stadium seating, a 12-seat A/V-equipped conference room, and a 15,000-square-foot aircraft arrivals canopy, which can accommodate a BBJ-class aircraft. That shelter can lower the temperature by more than 30 degrees versus the exposed ramp baked by Texas’s blazing sun.

The Phillips 66–branded location, which is staffed 24/7 every day, has 175,000 square feet of hangar space to house its 62 based jets and turboprops, including the 28,000-square-foot community hangar with 3,000 square feet of office and shop space completed last year. Given that this hangar is already full, the company has already poured the foundation for another similarly sized one.

“2022 was our best year in fuel sales and operations since we opened in 2011,” said airport executive director Andrew Perry. “The Austin area is one of the fastest-growing areas in the U.S. and our base tenant count and transient traffic have increased over the last two years.”

4.71, Sheltair, Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport (KFLL), Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Sheltair’s flagship facility at Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport is the Florida-based chain’s second location to reach the top 5 percent in this year’s AIN FBO Survey. With the largest leasehold of the four service providers at KFLL, the facility, which opened in 1988, operates 21 hangars with nearly 320,000 square feet of aircraft storage space. It is home to 36 jets, nine turboprops, and eight helicopters.

The IS-BAH Stage 2-registered FBO, which has a staff of 65 and is operational 24/7, earned its highest survey score this year in the CSR category (4.76) and placed among the top finishers in pilot amenities (4.70). 

Like its Tampa sibling, the KFLL facility, which occupies more than 50 acres, is set to undergo a multi\million-dollar renovation program including improved landscaping, reconfiguration of its parking lot, and new signage. Next year in a second phase, its three-story, 68,000-square-foot terminal—which is open 24/7—will undergo reconstruction with the expansion of its porte cochere to accommodate more vehicles and reconfiguration of the lobby to improve customer service flow.

Amenities include a pilot lounge, snooze rooms, and a flight planning area; the onsite Jet Runway Express deli/café; a duty-free gift shop; a private charter lounge, three conference rooms; a refreshment bar; a fitness center with sauna, showers, and a locker room; a concierge; a courtesy shuttle; and crew cars.

As the CAA-preferred FBO on the field, the Avfuel-branded FBO is an official gateway to the Bahamas, offering pre-clearance services, along with a 24-hour U.S. Customs service facility adjacent to its terminal. The location is also an authorized departure point for flights into Washington Reagan National Airport under the TSA’s DASSP program.

As part of a company-wide initiative, the location also welcomes and supports flights for animal rescue charities including Turtles Fly Too and Pilots N Paws.

4.71, Sheltair, Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport (KBJC), Denver

Rounding out Sheltair’s trio of locations making the top 5 percent in this year’s AIN FBO Survey is its facility at Denver Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport, the chain’s first location away from the East Coast of the U.S. with its $20 million permanent complex opening in mid-2020 during the height of the Covid pandemic.

The 27-acre leasehold includes a 10,400-square-foot terminal with a land-side porte cochere for passenger drop-off and pick-up, and a 162-foot-wide, 32-foot-tall aircraft arrivals canopy that can handle anything up to the size of a Bombardier Global 7500. The lobby features pine, stone, and exposed raw steel as well as a radiant-heat floor. Amenities include two A/V-equipped conference rooms, passenger and pilot lounges with fireplaces, snooze rooms, a concierge, crew cars, and onsite car rental.

The IS-BAH Stage 2-registered complex, which is open from 6 a.m. until 10 p.m. with after-hours callout available, added 29,000 square feet of hangar space last year along with 6,200 square feet of offices and nearly 50,000 square feet of ramp space, for a total of 12 acres of apron.

Under construction are an additional three hangars, each with a pair of dedicated offices, restrooms, and a private garage with streetside as well as hangar access. They will add an additional 52,000 square feet of heated hangar space and 3,700 square feet of office space, and when complete they will bring the location to more than 113,000 square feet of aircraft storage.

To mitigate the winter conditions the region is known for, hangar thresholds as well as the concrete walkways throughout the facility are equipped with an ice-melting system.

The location received its highest score this year in the line service category (4.75) and it also expanded its Avfuel-branded fuel farm with the addition of another 20,000-gallon tank that brings its capacity to 55,000 gallons of jet-A.

4.69, Aero-One Aviation, Dothan Regional Airport (KDHN), Dothan, Alabama

Aero-One Aviation, which was founded in 2010 and is the sole service provider at Dothan Regional Airport in Alabama, made its first appearance this year as a top 5 percent FBO in AIN’s annual survey. The family-owned business is a member of the World Fuel Service-sponsored Air Elite Network.

It earned its highest score this year in the line service category (4.76) due in part to its quick-turn expertise and its staff, which has extra incentive to provide top-notch service, according to company owner and president Chris Dupree. “Our employees participate in the success of our business through our profit-sharing program, so they think all day, every day like owners of the business,” he told AIN.

The location services the 30 jets and turboprops based on the field in addition to transient general aviation and military aircraft. Dupree noted that the airport recently hosted an Air National Guard disaster training exercise that attracted dozens of C-17s and F-16s and kept the FBO’s 21 NATA-Safety 1st-trained employees on their toes for days.

The facility has more than 100,000 square feet of hangar space, capable of sheltering aircraft up to the size of a Citation Longitude.

Age is but a number for the facility’s 1965-vintage, 5,000-square-foot terminal, which earned the company one of the top overall scores for passenger amenities (4.71) this year. lt offers two seating areas, refreshments and snacks, the Prop & Rotor Café, a conference room, office space, and a recently renovated pilot lounge.

While the company has worked diligently to keep it updated, Dupree explained that he is working with the airport to determine whether there is yet another renovation in the facility’s future or whether it will finally be demolished and replaced with a new terminal. A decision is expected by the end of this year.

4.69 Business Jet Center, Dallas Love Field (KDAL), Dallas

Business Jet Center (BJC), the highest-rated FBO among the four service providers at Dallas Love Field, has been in operation since 1997. The family-owned facility placed among the top scorers this year in the passenger amenities category with a score of 4.73. The FBO seems to offer things in triplicate in its unique 33,000-square-foot, three-story atrium terminal: three crew lounges, three snooze rooms, three conference rooms, and three Mercedes-Benz crew cars. Other amenities include private crew showers; a game room with a golf simulator, foosball, and pinball; a large meeting room; and a well-stocked refreshment area. Canine passengers are welcomed as well with treats and their own fire hydrant relief area.

Having opened its 16th hangar—a 49,000-square-foot structure—late last year, the 53-acre complex has nearly 400,000 square feet of hangar and office space, yet even that is not enough, as chief properties officer Jason Pons explained to AIN. The company plans to build another five hangars of a similar size able to accommodate the latest ultra-long-range business jets along with the accompanying ramp.

A full-service FBO, BJC provides aircraft charter, management, maintenance, sales, and acquisitions along with its business aircraft ground handling. The Phillips 66–branded location just purchased six new jet-A refuelers and an avgas truck to ensure that it maintains a safe and current fleet, according to managing partner Mike Wright.

Open 24/7, the FBO part of the facility has a staff of more than 80 (out of 150 total company employees). “Every person on our team believes and is invested in our four values: family spirit, humble heart, trusted service, and vibrant experience,” said chief experience officer Cat Wren. 

4.69, Western Aircraft, Boise Air Terminal/Gowen Field (KBOI), Boise, Idaho

Idaho may be a bit off the beaten path for some, but that hasn’t stopped the customers of Western Aircraft, one of three service providers at Boise Air Terminal/Gowen Field, from placing it in the top 5 percent of all facilities in the AIN FBO Survey for the third consecutive year.

 The Greenwich AeroGroup member, which celebrates its 65th anniversary this year, once again earned top-tier scores in the passenger (4.76) and pilot amenities (4.73) categories, finishing third overall in the former. “Western Aviation is unrivaled in terms of facilities,” FBO manager Dan Milender told AIN, adding, “Our exceptional service-oriented approach, as well as our ambition to be the safest, most progressive business aviation provider distinguishes us from our competitors.”

The 5,000-square-foot terminal features a pilot lounge with a pair of snooze rooms and shower facilities, an eight-seat A/V-equipped conference room, a flight planning area, a passenger lounge with refreshment bar, courtesy cars and shuttles, a plane-side vehicle valet, and a concierge. It is staffed from 6 a.m. until 9 p.m. with after-hours callout available. Milender noted that the company will be switching to X-1 FBO management software this year.

With 14 based turbine-powered aircraft, the facility has seven heated hangars ranging in size from 50,000 square feet capable of sheltering five Gulfstream G650s at once, to the smallest at 7,884 square feet, as well as nearly seven acres of ramp space. It also offers a dedicated mobile AOG response team from its Class 1, 2, 3, and 4 FAA repair station—the highest classification—meaning it can work on any production aircraft. The location also offers avionics and interiors refurbishment. In addition, Western is an authorized Piper and Pilatus aircraft dealer.

Each July, the location sees a boost in business aviation traffic courtesy of the Allen & Company Sun Valley Conference, a week-long media finance event that has taken place since 1983 and attracts major political figures and corporate executives.