New terminal, operator coming to Fernandina Beach airport

Transition after more than 20 years to be dramatic

FERNANDINA BEACH, Fla. – Between two of Amelia Island's biggest tourist events of the year, a new operator will take over the Fernandina Beach Municipal Airport.

The transition between McGill Aviation, which has managed air operations for the city for 21 years, and 8 Flags Aviation, which was awarded the contract last year, is to take place April 1, three weeks after this weekend's Concours D’Elegance and the Shrimp Festival, which is held the first weekend of May.

One visible change people visiting the area by private aircraft will notice is a stylish, new new terminal. Perhaps less noticeable, will be the company handling the ground movement, fueling and storage of the planes.

For air travelers to Amelia Island, it’s a critical transportation hub.

"This building is unique in that it actually has wings and it has a nose and a tail that are supposed to be, or look like a Corsair airplane flown during World War II," Fernandina Beach City Attorney Tammi Bach said.

But it’s more than just the new terminal that has people talking.

The transition to a new fixed base operator, which handles day-to-day operations of the city’s airport, has gotten a lot of attention. The decision to bring in new operator came a evaluation committee made up of pilots and an airport market consultant. 

"I think some people like change and some don’t, so I think that’s where the interest is," Bach said. "Several (FBOs) wanted to be there, and ... Eight Flags is the one that won the bid."

McGill Aviation will be removing all its equipment once their contract is complete, so the new operator must bring in its own equipment to service the numerous type of aircraft that use the facility.