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Aero Center Wilmington Plans To Start Construction This Spring

By Christina Haley O'Neal, posted Mar 18, 2021
Aero Center Wilmington is awaiting permits to start construction this spring. (Photo courtesy of Aero Center Wilmington)
This spring, work is set to start on Aero Center Wilmington, a new fixed base operator being planned on the grounds of the Wilmington International Airport.

Marathon FBO Partners, doing business as the FBO brand Aero Center Wilmington, is expected to be operational by the fourth quarter of this year, said Michael Scheeringa, a partner in the new fixed-base operator (FBO).

He is also managing director of SAR Trilogy Management LLC, the majority owner of Aero Center Wilmington and Aero Center Lakeland in Lakeland, Florida. An FBO provides general aviation services, such as fuel, hangaring and aircraft maintanence. 

The permitting process for the project is still ongoing, Scheeringa said. Pending permits, plans are to start construction in May.

“Once we have a definitive start on construction, that is when we will announce our general manger and we will start taking customer deposits for tenanting," Scheeringa said. "So we expect that kind of announcement in May.”

Once construction begins, it is expected to take five to six months to build the new facility, which will include two aviation hangers, one at 15,000 square feet and the other at 10,000 square feet; and the FBO building/offices, which will be an 11,000-square-foot, two story building with 6,000 square feet on first floor and 5,000 square feet on the second floor.

When built, Areo Center Wilmington will be one of two FBOs at the Wilmington International Airport (ILM).  The other FBO, Modern Aviation-Wilmington, has been operational at ILM for more than 40 years, changing names under new ownership in 2018.

Areo Center Wilmington will offer parking, storage and maintenance services, and could be looking into tenancy or partnerships to bring other in-demand aviation services to the community, Scheeringa said. It will serve both local customers as well as transient customers, and will hold various types of aircraft.

“We think Wilmington can support a second FBO and we think the competition is good for the market. And providing both the local customer and transient customers a choice in the future,” Scheeringa said.

Scheeringa said he has been following the growth of Wilmington for over 20 years. As vice president of operations planning for what was U.S. Airways at the time, he made his first trip to Wilmington in 1999 for an airport board meeting and for the N.C. Azalea Festival.

“We like the underlying Wilmington economy," Scheeringa said about why he chose the area for the FBO. "The airport supports a nice balance of commercial general aviation and military traffic. And as we said, the underlying volume mathematically supports two financially viable FBO providers.”

The new FBO will be developed on more than 6 acres of ILM's property and is under a lease agreement with the airport.

"The second FBO will bring more options to the local General Aviation users," said Julie Wilsey, ILM's airport director. "The existing FBO, Modern Aviation, is an outstanding tenant at ILM for over 40 years.  The new FBO, Aero Center Wilmington ... will also provide all of the amenities of a full-service FBO. ILM looks forward to their grand opening and new opportunities for the private and corporate pilots that two FBOs bring to ILM."
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