Tupelo Aviation unveils renovation

Adam Robison | Daily Journal The conference room table at Tupelo Aviation was built by asset management from a 737 tail with fitted glass for the top.

Adam Robison | Daily Journal
The conference room table at Tupelo Aviation was built by asset management from a 737 tail with fitted glass for the top.

By Dennis Seid
Daily Journal

TUPELO – For general aviation pilots, including corporate clients, the fixed-base operator at an airport is often the welcome mat to a community.

For Tupelo Aviation Unlimited, the FBO at Tupelo Regional Airport, the welcome mat needed to be replaced.

After five months of work, officials eagerly unveiled a $500,000 renovation and expansion of TAU on Thursday.

“This is the front door to the city,” said airport Executive Director Josh Abramson.

The exterior walls were left alone, but the interior was pretty much gutted. Office space was added upstairs, but the biggest and most visible work was done downstairs.

A new lobby for pilots as well as the public were built, the bathrooms were redone, a conference room was added, a pilots’ lounge was renovated and a dedicated flight planning room was added. A large curved desk also was built in the main lobby where pilots enter.

The talk of the renovation was the conference room, where a horizontal stabilizer from a Boeing 737 with a fitted glass top was made into a conference table.

It was made by Universal Asset Management, the jet disassembly and recycling company that leases space at the airport.

The project was paid with a $300,000 multi-modal grant from the Mississippi Department of Transportation and a $200,000 loan from the Mississippi Development Authority.

An FBO provides services such as fueling, aircraft maintenance, flight instruction and aircraft rental.

“An FBO is a place where pilots get gas, historically,” said David Smith, Tupelo Aviation Unlimited’s manager. “We want to redefine what it is. We want our clients to get the most exceptional service around … all this work only helps to improve our service.”

Adam Robison | Daily Journal Executive dricetor of the Tupelo Regional Airport Josh Abramson addresses the small crowd gathered for the ribbon cutting ceremony of the newly renovated Tupelo Aviation.

Adam Robison | Daily Journal
Executive dricetor of the Tupelo Regional Airport Josh Abramson addresses the small crowd gathered for the ribbon cutting ceremony of the newly renovated Tupelo Aviation.

Said Abramson, “When the people and the decision-makers come to decide whether they want to bring their businesses here, their jobs here or spend their money here, we now have a great presence with this new facility.”

dennis.seid@journalinc.com

  • fairorright

    It’s good story, but only half-truths usually are. Where was the picture of what “the people (huh) and the decision makers (who) see when they step off the airplane? And just what did a half million dollars, nearly half in more debt, really buy. A corporate officer of AMS Management stated that this was just phase I. Phase I will cost the public another $9,000 a month in payments for ten years. The airport owes the City of Tupelo more than quarter of a million dollars in debt payments now and is talking about another debt burden of $700,000 for the “permanent” fix of the old runway. What about the maintenance that’s needed on the taxiways and current runway. They have no plan and no priorities. In fact they have no mission, Airport Master Plan, business plan, Airport Construction Improvement Plan or any planning at all. The airport is a sail boat that has lost its rudder.

    Abramson says this FBO has maintenance. That is not true, but it may have been a slip of the tongue again. The FBO is run by AMS Management which is related to AMS Tupelo, an aircraft
    maintenance f acility. Is it no wonder that they received over $60K in business from their FBO brethren?

    How much did they pay for the furniture made by TAA Leaseholders? Furniture was not even a part of the original construction contract. But now new furniture appears. Sounds unethical to me! Bet MDA doesn’t know that.

    “We want to redefine what it is. We want our clients to get the most exceptional service around…” They have a long way to go. In the year that they’ve been managing the FBO, there have been only five positive comments (and one of those was for the self service facility on the northern end of the airfield). From 2007 until 2010, the airport FBO staff and facilities received more than five per month. Yet another indicator of what debt is buying. There audit says it all! “TAA and TAU (FBO) could not produce year-end trial balances that reconciled to the provided financial statements.” The Mayor and the City Council need the “rest of the story.”