As business air journey lags, Petaluma Airport charters thrive – North Bay Enterprise Journal


After greater than 30 years at Petaluma Municipal Airport, the family-owned Mangon Plane, Inc. has witnessed rather a lot over time, with its giant hangar doorways typically open, forming a framed view. entrance row to the path and each day actions. .

But, as many sectors are deeply shaken by the coronavirus pandemic, the president of the plane service and restore firm, Ronald Mangon, says he’s busier than ever. On a latest weekday, his staff quietly operated the uncovered innards of small planes, the noises of plane taxiing and touchdown a continuing and dependable white noise.

“Truthfully, the recession of the early 1980s was worse than that,” mentioned Mangon, a part of a trio of single-engine plane. “We have now a robust buyer base, and no matter COVID, folks nonetheless must get their planes inspected. So enterprise has been good.

The identical might be mentioned of the operations at Petaluma Municipal Airport, which, like Mangon Plane Inc., is comparatively unscathed from the coronavirus disaster.

Airport supervisor Daniel Cohen mentioned about 60% of the airport's exercise got here from tenants, together with firms like Mangon and the roughly 230 occupants of the hangar. He allocates the remaining 40% to guests. This consists of quiet aviators on tour and enterprise associated journey, in addition to expedition operations and firefighting plane.

Except for the crippling first month of the introduced shelter-in-place order in mid-March, the roughly 220-acre airport tucked away alongside town's northeastern outskirts is buzzing, though in a barely modified peak. Whereas Mangon enjoys a lot of its common enterprise, different areas of the airport have seen adjustments in response to the pandemic.

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Cohen mentioned city-run gas providers had been rebounding after falling in April and Could, citing what he calls a sluggish return of personal planes.

“I believe individuals are searching for alternatives proper now, issues to do on the weekends,” Cohen mentioned. "We have now additionally seen a rise in point-to-point charters, presumably associated to COVID, permitting folks to journey with out going to a business airport."

In a Gallup ballot launched in early August, a majority of 6,500 Individuals who’ve taken the aircraft prior to now yr mentioned they had been uncomfortable to get again on the aircraft anytime quickly. The Facilities on Illness Management warns that journey will increase the possibilities of contracting and spreading COVID-19, highlighting time spent in security strains and at airport terminals, which makes social distancing tough.

For individuals who are prepared to take the chance, they face important reductions in business flights. flight monitoring web site reported a 46% drop in business airline visitors between August 2019 and August 2020.

Final month, United Airways introduced that it might briefly halt all providers at Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport in Santa Rosa, the county's solely purchasing middle, by the top of October.

Mangon mentioned he's additionally seen a rise within the variety of folks utilizing charters particularly to keep away from utilizing business airways – both due to well being issues or as a result of they couldn't not discover a appropriate flight.

It now receives a median of two calls per week from folks thinking about constitution flights. Earlier than the pandemic, it solely obtained a handful of those requests per yr.

Probably the most utilitarian makes use of of the runway have broadened to additionally embody common transport operations, with a median of over 60,000 kilos of air cargo going out every month, he mentioned.

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The Two Niner Diner, fashionable amongst airport guests for practically 30 years, closes for winter on November 2, after adjusting to al fresco eating wants. The corporate is contemplating a reopening date of April 2021.

Cohen mentioned the airport has been an necessary base for firefighting efforts for the previous a number of years, together with this summer time. Throughout the Woodward Hearth in August, which burned roughly four,900 acres of wilderness at Level Reyes Nationwide Seashore, the airport hosted six firefighting helicopters from the US Division of Forestry and served as the bottom of operations.

As Ron Mangon and his son, David Mangon, proceed to work on a continuing stream of planes requiring checks and repairs, the corporate has had its personal expertise of the pandemic-related points, which have dramatically affected crippled some provide chains and a few producers.

“What used to take every week can now take a month as a result of we are able to't get our fingers on a selected half,” mentioned Ron Mangon. "I additionally get calls from different shops, asking if now we have this or that as a result of they’ll't discover it."

His cellphone additionally rings with inquiries about his firm's flight faculty, Petaluma Pilot Coaching Middle, additionally on the airport property. After a 6 week spring shutdown, Rob Mangon mentioned the varsity is again up and operating. The waitlist now spans two months. True to the household mannequin began in 1988 by Ron's father, Walter Mangon, his daughter, Danielle Kertz, oversees the flight faculty.

Relying on town, the airport helps 37 full or part-time jobs, together with 15 at Magnon Plane, Inc., totaling $ 1.2 million in payroll. In contrast to many firms in Petaluma, none of them have needed to make layoffs, in response to Cohen and Mangon. The airport additionally obtained roughly $ 70,000 in federal funding from the CARES Act to assist cowl vital working prices in April.

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Longtime airport commissioner Tom McGaw mentioned that whereas the variety of take-offs and landings nonetheless isn't what they was once, most operations have rebounded after a unsure spring.

It's a hopeful spectacle for McGaw, a pilot who’s closely invested within the city-owned airport and its robust flying group. The Petaluma Space Pilots Affiliation, which has as much as 100 members, has been unable to arrange lots of its air occasions and different social gatherings. 'Posting Day' occasions that invite residents to take a look at small planes have been canceled, a practice McGaw sees as essential to educating the general public about how the airport works and producing curiosity in it. aviation.

"We're a giant household of flyers right here, folks would possibly name us 'nuts', however we're a bunch of individuals within the space who’ve a eager curiosity in aviation," he mentioned. declared. "We’re dedicated to this shared expertise, this curiosity and our want to get issues carried out on the airport, and we are going to proceed to work to verify folks learn about this city-owned property that makes a lot of issues."

(Contact Kathryn Palmer at, on Twitter @KathrynPlmr.)


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