Aviation Companies Expanding at Waterbury-Oxford Airport
18 Jan 2023
The first phase of a $40 million expansion and makeover project at Waterbury-Oxford Airport has benefited from Connecticut's relatively snow-free winter thus far.
Although fill work has stopped for the winter at the airport owned and operated by the Connecticut Airport Authority, construction of a new operations facility at the Oxford-based airport continues, said David Blackburn, a senior vice president with Clay Lacy Aviation, which is doing the expansion. Foundation work has started on a 40,000-square-foot hangar and 5,000 square feet of office space, Blackburn said.
"We had to stop doing fill work because you can't put fill on top of frozen ground," he said. "But we are still pouring footings and installing pilings. We will probably resume the fill work in mid-March."
The construction of the hangar and office space at the airport is being done so that Clay Lacy Aviation, which is headquartered in California, can become what is known in the aviation community as a "fixed base operator," one that provides services to jets and airplanes, like fuel, parking and hangar space.
The current fixed base operator at the airport is Atlantic Aviation.
Clay Lacy Aviation also provides charter flights from Waterbury-Oxford Airport.
The other major player at Waterbury-Oxford Airport is Tradewind Aviation, which has been headquartered there since 2004. The privately held company, which employs 230 people, offers private charters, regularly scheduled service, and aircraft management services, said David Zipkin, who co-founded Tradewind Aviation with his brother Eric.
The company is amidst an expansion of its own involving its aircraft fleet. Tradewind Aviation recently took delivery of the first of 20 PC-12 NGX turboprop aircraft that will be delivered over five years. David Zipkin said that represents a $150 million investment for the company, which will take the delivery of four of the new planes each year.
Tradewind Aviation has been operating a fleet of PC-12s, which are also turboprop aircraft. A turboprop aircraft has a turbine engine that drives an aircraft propeller.
Zipkin said in addition to modernizing the company's aircraft fleet, the PC-12 NGX planes will allow Tradewind Aviation to fly into smaller airports.
"The PC-12 and PC-12 NGX are very much the same aircraft, but our new planes will be able to land on runways as short as 2,000 feet," he said. "The PC-12 NGX is also a little bit faster, a little more efficient and a little more comfortable than the PC-12."
The scheduled service that Tradewind Aviation offers to Martha's Vineyard, Nantucket, and Newport, R.I., is done out of satellite locations at Westchester County Airport in White Plains, N.Y., and New Jersey's Teterboro Airport. The scheduled service is targeted at well-heeled individuals who have second homes in those New England vacation destinations, according to Zipkin.
In theory, the arrival of Clay Lacy Aviation and its expansion at Waterbury-Oxford Airport represents a competitive threat to Tradewind Aviation. But Zipkin said that while both companies "technically play in the same sandbox, we both cohabitate quite easily."
"They use bigger planes than we do," he said.