Eight times as many private or corporate planes are based at Scottsdale Airport than at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, so Phoenix-based Swift Aviation Group is setting up shop there, too.
That's according to Tom Guilfoy, one of two company executives moving to new digs in Scottsdale in hopes of expanding Swift's business base.
Scottsdale Airport, owned and operated by the city, has 450 aircraft ranging from single-engine recreational versions to numerous corporate jets based at the hub, according to a city-generated fact sheet.
Swift leased office space in Landmark Aviation's building at the north Scottsdale airport and will relocate two business development executives and one mechanic to the new space, said Patrick Donaldson, who is moving there with Guilfoy.
Phoenix-based Swift owns and operates six planes and its own charter services from a luxurious private terminal and full maintenance facilities at Sky Harbor, but the company also maintains and manages planes for others, said Michael White, company vice president.
Swift performs varying levels of services for customer companies, ranging from performing occasional or ongoing aircraft maintenance to providing pilots and crews and flying the planes, he said. That's the business segment Swift is expanding into Scottsdale, White said.
The company has nine private plane management contracts in Phoenix, he said.
So far, Swift has only one Scottsdale-based plane to manage, but the potential for growth in that area of the business is higher than in Phoenix, Donaldson said.
White said he can envision as many as 10 to 15 managed operations in Scottsdale within a couple of years because there are so many more private planes based at the smaller venue.
Today's soaring fuel costs are more likely to help than hurt the ambitious expansion plans, Donaldson said, since Swift can provide operational economies that a single plane owner couldn't achieve.
White said Swift also can, if a customer wants, charter the corporate jet to help defray costs.
White doesn't see companies forgoing private planes just because the economy is tough, he said. As commercial airlines cut capacity, it will become even more critical for a company to ferry VIP customers and corporate officers to business meetings and contract talks in a timely and comfortable manner, he said.
"These are business facilitators," White said of corporate aircraft.
Setting up offices at Scottsdale Airport is more a marketing move than filling a real need for Swift executives to be on site, Guilfoy said.
"It's tactile. We can meet, greet and give (superior) customer service," he said.
In fact, most maintenance operations for Scottsdale-based planes will be performed at the Sky Harbor facility, except for relatively small fixes that can be performed in a hangar, White said.
"We don't want to replicate operations," he said.