Business Aircraft Influx Not Always Welcome

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The current boom in business jet sales has naturally created more demand for places to accommodate them. In most cases that means new investment, jobs and economic activity but not everyone welcomes the uptick at the local airport. In Livermore, Calif., for instance, local newspapers have been alive with controversy since the city signed a 35-year lease with Livermore Air Center, owned by the same company that operates the Million Air FBO at Monterey Peninsula Airport. The new lessees are adding fuel, lavatory service, concierge and other bizjet-oriented facilities and detractors say that will mean more noise and nuisance. But spokeswoman Marilyn Sullivan says the improvements don't mean only jets are welcome. "We serve anybody who is flying into the airport, any type of aircraft," she said. In Glendale, Ariz., near Phoenix, the new operator of a previously GA-oriented airport makes no bones about its intention to attract business aircraft. Rightpath Limited Development Group has taken over the airport and hopes to have a new reception and service center and tank farm in place to accept jet traffic attending the Super Bowl Game in February. In all, it plans $3.5 million in improvements in the next year and has long-term plans for hangars and other facilities to rival nearby Scottsdale. Rightpath is behind two major developments in the area and sees the airport as fundamental to attracting buyers. The transition has its detractors, too. Local pilots say the GA focus of the highly regarded previous operator has been eliminated as has a flight school and aircraft dealer and service center.