Million Air Luring General Aviation to former Norton Air Force Base

  • Published
  • By Susan Wolbarst, Photos by Scott Johnston
This summer, Million Air opened a new terminal at San Bernardino International Airport, bumping up the luxury quotient at the former Norton Air Force Base. The company provides executive services in deluxe surroundings for private jet owners while their aircraft are being refueled. The Air Force Real Property Agency managed the environmental cleanup and property transfer at the former Norton AFB, completing whole-base transfer to the community in 2007.

It's not the first time the franchise set up shop at a former Air Force base. Million Air also operates at the former George AFB in Victorville, CA; the former Griffiss AFB in Rome, NY; and the former England Air Force Base in Alexandria, LA. Million Air operates 28 facilities in the United States, Canada and the Caribbean.

Based in Houston, Million Air describes itself as "the nation's premier provider of upscale, private aviation services." The company also offers well-appointed private charter. "Each Million Air facility is specifically designed with a focus on the comforts of our guests, whether visiting for a few minutes or a day," says CEO Roger Woolsey on the company's website. Amenities include VIP lounges, theatre rooms, beverage bars, a flight-planning room, and state-of-the-art business centers, according to that website.

The newly constructed fixed-base operation (FBO) contains 40,000 square feet, including one hangar with a 28-foot-high door and another with a 50-foot-high door. A new 150,000 gallon fuel farm services visiting planes and onsite customs is available for passengers traveling abroad.

Million Air at SBIA is sited near the renovated commercial airline terminal, equipped with everything needed to do business except a tenant. In the slumping economy, SBIA officials have spent months courting various airlines without success.

The same week Million Air hosted its grand opening in San Bernardino, the city of Victorville released the company from a contractual obligation to build a hangar at Southern California Logistics Airport at the former George AFB, about 60 miles away. At that location, Million Air reportedly makes a significant amount of its revenue selling fuel to the military. Corporate aviation demand in Victorville doesn't warrant a dedicated hanger at this time, city officials said.

Since Norton was announced for closure in 1988, the Air Force Real Property Agency has worked closely with the San Bernardino International Airport to enable successful redevelopment. Currently 55 businesses and about 4,000 jobs are located at the former base, and with the addition of the Million Air terminal, the local airport authority is hopeful more economic good news is coming.

The Air Force Real Property Agency is responsible for remediation and property transfer at 40 former Air Force installations throughout the United States under the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) program. At the height of BRAC, AFRPA managed 87,000 acres - about 137 square miles of property. Since the first BRAC in 1988, the agency has transferred 88 percent, or more than 116 square miles of land, to local communities for public use - twice the area of Washington, D.C.