General Aviation Resurgent at John Wayne Airport
March 20, 2018
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  • ACI Jet has played a significant leadership role in the resurgence of general aviation at John Wayne Airport. Prior to the award by the Orange County Board of Supervisors of the FBO facility previously operated by a large national chain to ACI Jet, GA pilots had to choose between two national chains as FBOs. With the award to a strong independent FBO and the retention of one of the two national chains, GA has returned to John Wayne Airport.

    “The winners are the customers,” said Joe Daichendt, general manager of ACI Jet’s Orange County FBO.

    The competitive marketplace and fair pricing has resulted in record airport fuel sales on aviation gasoline, or Avgas as commonly known. From April 2017 through January, over 316,000 gallons of Avgas has been sold at John Wayne Airport compared to slightly over 220,000 gallons the previous 10-month period. With its competitive pricing, GA has responded in kind with ACI Jet enjoying greater than 72 percent of that market share during the last 10 months. Promoting a GA-friendly atmosphere, ACI Jet has averaged almost 23,000 gallons per month in Avgas fuel sales compared to around 7,000 gallons per month by its predecessor during the preceding 10 months.  Emblematic of its GA-friendly culture, ACI Jet does not charge parking or ancillary fees for piston single-engine and light twin aircraft at SNA for “drop-off/pick-up and go” or less than three hours of ramp parking.

    Beyond the growth in GA fuel sales and a culture change, flight schools and other GA businesses are flourishing at John Wayne Airport. Michael Church, the owner of Sunrise Aviation, a flight school based at SNA, has seen the resurrection as well. “The changes at John Wayne Airport since the addition of ACI Jet a year ago have been nothing less than momentous: lower prices, a friendly culture and a real sense of partnership. I feel the shift helped save general aviation on our field.”

    Gary Sequeria, president of Orange County Flight Center which specializes in flight training and aircraft sales, has benefited from the renewed GA-friendly environment at SNA. “The change at SNA has been incredibly noticeable, especially with the addition of ACI Jet to John Wayne Airport.” He added, “The renewed enthusiasm and support to General Aviation at SNA has played a significant part in a recent increase in our business as a direct result of their efforts.”

    With their own employee flying club, aptly named the Employee Flight Department, ACI Jet understands that general aviation is an important element of any successful airport. Daichendt adds, “At the end of the day, I am a GA pilot myself and I travel from airport to airport as well. I see what works and what doesn’t- from an FBO customer’s perspective. ACI Jet has been and shall always be a friend to GA. It’s who we are, frames our success, and is the foundation of how we conduct business.”