SBD International Airport

By Joe Nelson, The Sun
Posted: 06/19/14, 8:30 PM PDT |

San Bernardino International Airport’s interim executive director, A.J. Wilson, may be retiring, but his departure comes amid some major new arrivals and developments at the airport.

Wilson came out of retirement in November 2011 to help the embattled airport, mired in controversy following an FBI raid, turn itself around. He announced last week he would be retiring at the end of month. He said he feels he has accomplished what he has set out to do and now wants to get back to retirement.

Airport interim board chairman and Loma Linda Councilman Ovidiu Popescu said Friday he and San Bernardino Mayor Carey Davis are headed to the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) Regional Forum at Van Nuys Airport Thursday to network with businesses and see if any are interested in doing business at SBIA.

Van Nuys is one of the most active and prominent general aviation airports in the country. A plane takes off and lands there every 45 seconds, and it bustles with general aviation and commercial business, Popescu said.

But Van Nuys is so busy it is squeezed, and it is far more expensive to do business there, Popescu said.

“It’s packed to the hilt. There are airplanes on top of airplanes if you look in their hangars,” Popescu said. “To park a jet at Van Nuys it costs $25 a square foot, and at San Bernardino it costs 65 cents a square foot.”

Many management organizations that operate aircraft at Van Nuys could be lured to SBIA, and pose the best opportunity to bolster its turbine tenant roster, according to a December 2013 marketing study commissioned by SBIA.

Among the selling points Popescu and Davis will be pitching to businesses include 30 general aviation hangars that are in the process of being built at the airport, which should be completed by this time next year, Popescu said.

On April 15, the airport board approved a five-year lease, at $200,000 annually, with city of Industry-based Unical Aviation Inc., a global supplier of aircraft parts. The lease came with two renewal options at five years each, said Mark Gibbs, the airport’s deputy director of aviation.

The company is building a 40,000-square-foot concrete pad on 7 acres which will be used for stripping airplanes, Gibbs said.

Unical also wants to lease an 18,000-square-foot warehouse to store the parts from the dismantled planes. Gibbs said the airport will likely enter into its second lease agreement with Unical later this year, after the company completes development on the 7-acre parcel.

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