EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP — Looking to work on your tan at some remote beach? Need to get to Paris for a business meeting? What if you want to send your dogs across country in high style?
No problem, officials at Landmark Aviation insist. They’ll fly you — and your dogs — there on a moment’s notice.
Houston-based Landmark has just taken over the charter flight operations and ground services at Atlantic City International Airport and wants everyone to know it has a “whatever the customer needs” approach.
“We’ll go anywhere in the world,” said Mike Hodel, Landmark’s director of flight operations.
Hodel, a pilot, had just returned Wednesday morning from a whirlwind trip to Paris. A corporate customer needed to get to Paris on Monday, so Landmark fueled up the jet.
“We were there for about 24 hours,” Hodel said. “It was a short amount of time for a long trip.”
Not all charter passengers are corporate executives heading overseas. Hodel recalled how talk show host Phil Donahue once chartered a plane for his sick dog.
Harold Johnson, Landmark’s general manager for Atlantic City, said he is amazed that so many people are willing to rent a private plane just for their pets.
“Whatever they want,” Johnson said. “That’s what the charter business is all about.”
Landmark oversees a fleet of six charter jets and planes at Atlantic City International. It took ownership of three aircraft and manages three others as part of its buyout of Midlantic Jet Aviation in March for undisclosed terms. The Midlantic deal also gave Landmark possession of three aircraft hangars and office facilities totaling about 65,000 square feet of space, making it the airport’s largest commercial real estate holder.
Landmark acquired Midlantic in the belief there is plenty of growth potential in the Atlantic City market, company executives explained. As the airport’s new ground-services provider, Landmark hopes to capitalize on Atlantic City’s push for more commercial airline service to bring more business travelers and overnight tourists to the resort town.
“Whatever is good for Atlantic City is good for us, frankly,” said Marty Kretchman, a Landmark general manager from Asheville, N.C., who is in Atlantic City to help out with the transition from Midlantic’s former ownership.
Over the years, the locally based Midlantic Jet often was cited as the type of commercial company that is key to the airport’s hoped-for evolution into a bustling travel hub. Atlantic City International, located 10 miles west of the city in Egg Harbor Township, is trying to attract more commercial companies at the same time it is looking to build up its passenger airline service.
Landmark gives Atlantic City one of the biggest names in the general aviation industry. It operates ground services at more than 50 locations in the United States, Canada, France and England. Before it came to Atlantic City, it already had a New Jersey presence at Teterboro Airport in Bergen County.
On Tuesday, Landmark used its main hangar for an open house to help drum up business for aircraft manufacturer Beechcraft. The invitation-only event brought aircraft buyers and users to the airport to check out four new Beechcraft planes.
Landmark uses some Beechcraft models for its charter business. Celebrities, casino high-rollers and corporate executives are among those flying on Landmark’s planes and jets, although the company declines to name names to protect the privacy of its clients.
While the charter flights represent a glamorous side of the business, Landmark’s role as the airport’s “fixed-base operator” will be its bread and butter. Its ground services include fueling, maintenance and repairs for aircraft ranging from small private planes to large commercial jets.
“We can step up and do the whole package for them,” Johnson said. “We do it all.”
As a local company, Midlantic lacked Landmark’s international reach. Landmark believes it can leverage its worldwide locations to offer commercial customers, including the airlines, better prices for such things as fuel.
In addition to buying Midlantic’s facilities, Landmark inherited Midlantic’s work force of about 100 employees. Johnson and Kretchman both noted the possibility of Landmark hiring new workers for its Atlantic City operations if business expands.
“It’s always something we’re looking at,” Johnson said. “It’s our goal to have more people as business grows.”
Aircraft mechanic Gunner Olson said he and other former Midlantic employees were happy to make the jump to Landmark. Olson, who worked for Midlantic for 51/2 years, said the employees were relieved to retain their jobs following the sale.
“It’s a positive outlook,” said Olson, 44, of Egg Harbor Township. “It really looks good.”
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