The terminal at Apalachicola Regional Airport is getting a facelift with an eye to more and better service for visiting pilots.
Things are changing at Apalachicola’s airport. On Nov. 1, Crystal Air of Chattanooga came on board as the new Fixed Base Operator (FBO) for the facility. On Nov. 12, the terminal was almost bare of furniture, but maps and brochures were neatly stacked on the remaining desk and shelves.
In response to the front door, a young man appeared from the rear of the terminal, power drill in hand.
Jonathan Crisp, 24, is the new airport manager, hard at work refurbishing the terminal and grounds. Crisp said he likes the area although relocating has caused him some culture shock. He said he will be living at the airport in a section of the FBO hangar.
Crisp graduated from Mid Tennessee State University with a bachelor’s degree in aerospace science. He spent three months managing Crystal Air’s FBO operation in Cleveland, Tennessee and has flown charter flights for the company.
“We want to focus on customer service,” Crisp said. “Our other six airports all have five-star ratings.”
Crystal Air focuses on upscale clientele and seeks to provide a travel experience with all the frills and no hassles. Their slogan is “The airline minus the line.” The new FBO plans to bring in real red carpets to roll out for visitors.
Crisp has set to work to upgrade the public areas of the airport.
“Some things have been let go,” he said. “But we’re going to take care of that.” Crystal Air is installing a new weather station and a snooze lounge for pilots making a brief stop to freshen up, buy fuel and maybe catch a nap.
The airport is seeing lots of traffic, said Crisp. “We get a lot of business from St. George Island,” he said. “People also fly in or stop over on the way to another location, just to try the local seafood. Lots of pilots talk about the wonderful hospitality here.”
He said the new fuel farm; especially the self-serve station, is doing a brisk business. Beginning in January or February, Crystal will be staging some planes at Apalachicola’s airport and the facility will offer flight instruction. Plans are also under way to schedule charter flights to bring sportsmen to the area to hunt and fish.
Crystal Air has already added a second crew car to its fleet and has signed franchise agreements with Hertz and Thrifty car rentals. Crisp said providing vehicles in both lines will allow them to stock a wider range of models and sizes.
Crystal Air invites all local businesses to bring literature to display at the terminal. “We are adding an advertising section,” he said. “We are trying to cater to the local folks so we can help them and they can help us.”
Crisp said Crystal Air will soon be hiring. They are looking for versatile staff to perform tasks including operating the fuel truck, doing grounds maintenance and acting as a receptionist in the terminal.