Long before one of the world’s biggest golf events, the Ryder Cup, tees off September 28 at Medinah Country Club outside Chicago, two nearby fixed base operators have prepared for a blitz of executive flight activity from corporate sponsors, fans, celebrities, journalists and international visitors.
J.A. Air Center (KARR) at Aurora Municipal Airport and DuPage Flight Center (KDPA) at DuPage Airport are staffing up to handle a nationally televised event predicted to bring $135 million into the region, according to the DuPage County Convention and Tourism Bureau. The spacious ramps at the FBOs – both Phillips 66 Aviation-branded dealers – are expected to be busy.
With its 24/7 traffic control tower, 24/7 FBO services, 24/7 customs and four runways – one that in Chicago is second in length only to O’Hare International – DuPage Flight Center is expecting “a tremendous amount of traffic to be generated by the event,” said David Bird, Executive Director of the DuPage Airport Authority.
DuPage is completing a $3.5 million runway expansion in time for the Ryder Cup, along with a $3.1 million remodel of its pilot and passenger flight center.
J.A. Air Center sits almost a towering tee shot away from the site of the 2012 Ryder Cup Captain’s Challenge at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove, Ill. The FBO has prepared for the arrival of elite celebrities from golf and Hollywood slated to play in the charity event, said Randy Fank, Operations Manager for the J.A. Air Center.
Rich Harvest Farms has named J.A. Air the preferred FBO for the Ryder Cup Captain’s Challenge, featuring 12-member teams of pros, celebrities and amateurs led by former U.S. Ryder Cup Captains, including Corey Pavin, Paul Azinger, Tom Lehman, Hal Sutton, Curtis Strange, Ben Crenshaw, Tom Kite, Lanny Wadkins, Lee Trevino, Raymond Floyd, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus.
In what could be a boon to the FBOs’ business, dozens of corporate sponsors are flying into Chicagoland for the Ryder Cup. Some 70 corporate sponsors have tents at the event.
“It’s a huge corporate event; the prediction is that it could be the largest-grossing tournament in golf’s history,” DuPage’s Bird said. “We are expecting lots of domestic traffic from these corporations that have a presence at the Cup, in addition to several European flights.”
With its one-million-square-foot apron, said Bird, DuPage Flight Center has the ramp capacity to handle the traffic.
For its part in attracting corporate flyers, J.A. Air is leveraging the FBOs’ top rankings two years running in an annual poll of nearly 18,000 pilots and corporate flight attendants, schedulers and dispatchers. The FBO is also touting its direct tollway access and 35-minute drive to the Ryder Cup site.
The hotly contested 85-year-old Ryder Cup is held every two years for international bragging rights to a trophy that pits an elite team of U.S. golfers against their European counterparts.
For more information about J.A. Air Center, visit www.jaair.com.
For more information about DuPage Flight Center, visit www.dupageflightcenter.com.