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SLO aviation company ACI Jet wins contract at John Wayne Airport in Orange County

ACI Jet provides corporate aircraft management, charter, maintenance and ground support services worldwide from a base at San Luis Airport.
ACI Jet provides corporate aircraft management, charter, maintenance and ground support services worldwide from a base at San Luis Airport. dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

ACI Jet, based in San Luis Obispo, will soon be offering aviation services at John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana. The company plans to provide charter, fuel and ground support services to private aircraft owners at the Orange County airport.

ACI Jet was awarded one of the two fixed-base operator, or FBO, leaseholds at John Wayne after it bid successfully on the Orange County contract. The company that it’s replacing, Signature Flight Support, will transfer operations over to ACI Jet on March 1.

It has been years since John Wayne Airport has had a full-service, independent FBO, ACI Jet President Bill Borgsmiller said in a news release. He declined to estimate the company’s financial investment there.

“We are excited to bring our award-winning, independent FBO to Orange County’s John Wayne Airport,” Borgsmiller said. “A duopoly of sorts has existed at Santa Ana for the past several years between the chain FBOs, and competitive fuel pricing and service has suffered as a result.”

The company plans to hire 35 to 40 new employees to run operations at John Wayne. Every employee at the current FBO who is laid off by the transition will be given a chance to interview with ACI Jet. The company tries to attract people who have a passion for aviation by offering employees membership in its Flying Club, which includes access to flying lessons and aircraft, Borgsmiller said.

ACI Jet will immediately relocate key aircraft from its charter fleet to John Wayne Airport in order to provide more air travel options for Orange County residents.

“There won’t be any new planes until discussions with our investors are complete,” Borgsmiller said, adding, “We want to focus on unserved and underserved markets.”

Andrew Robillard, vice president of flight-based operations and facilities at ACI, will oversee the transition at John Wayne.

“We acknowledge the human element of the transition,” Robillard said. “ACI has a long tradition of caring for and developing its employees.”

Operations at John Wayne will be the largest overseen by the company until the expansion at San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport is complete. Besides its base there, ACI runs flight-based operations at the Paso Robles Airport and Oceano Airport.

ACI Jet, founded in 1998, declined to release annual revenue or profits but said it has invested $3.3 million over the past 12 months in facility expansion at the San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport. This year, it will spend an additional $16 million on construction of a hangar and building expansion there.

Before the latest contract in Orange County, the company employed 94 full-time and 14 part-time employees.

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