Airport officials leave spot available for jet company
Land east of the Palatka Municipal Airport, tentatively named the “Palatka Jet Center,” remains untouched for a reason. The airport is hoping to attract a jet company to the city.
“That’s just what we call it,” Passero Associates Vice President and Director of Aviation Services Andrew Holesko said. “That is why that piece of grass sits there and does not have hangars. That’s why we did not take the terminal building and build hangars and go east.”
Holesko, addressing the airport advisory board, said protecting that land parcel for a signature operation of a charter aircraft fleet may bring 25 to 100 people to the airport. Holesko said jet companies flying out of Atlanta or Orlando could come to Palatka for the airport’s availability, fuel prices and light traffic.
“Truly finding them and getting them here, that hasn’t happened,” Holesko said. “We need a tenant to plan, design and build and bring a jet operation. That’s why it sits there today.”
Airport Manager John Youell said a jet center would lead to an increase in fuel sales, jobs and boost the airport’s property value, but he said building the center would have to be need-driven.
“It’s not something that the city would build and hope people would come it,” Youell said. “We need some serious economic development for the jet center to be built.”
Youell said a runway extension and U.S. Customs and Border Patrol facility for international flights are two potential improvements to help attract a tenant. While the jet center is on the advisory board’s radar, Youell said the airport’s first priority was general aviation.
“The (Federal Aviation Administration) and the (state Department of Transportation) want you to show the need before a runway extension gets funded, and we want the runway extension before the demand exists, so we can treat it as, ‘If you build it, they will come,’” Youell said. “We’ve got to take car of general aviation aircraft, while still maintaining a view toward larger aircraft.”