Jan. 9, 2023
Rapid changes occurring at Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport (SAV) are the impetus for a new organization: the Savannah Area Aviation Association (SAAA).
The airport’s master plan includes the Southeast Quadrant Redevelopment Project, which impacts general aviation (GA) tenants currently occupying shadeports, T-hangars and community hangars. These plans proceeded in 2022 with limited direct communication between the airport authority and individual aircraft owners, resulting in several being forced to find new space with little notice.
Ted Meyer, SAAA interim councilmember, business aircraft pilot and owner of an airplane based at KSAV, said the group wants to help the airport commission see the value of the full spectrum of GA, from flight schools developing new pilots and helping existing pilots add new ratings to recreational aircraft owners and those who fly for business purposes
“Savannah [airport] is doing a great job of helping FBOs develop excellent transient services in recent years. We’re working with them to ensure that the commission maintains a focus on allowing for a range of storage options at this airport to house aircraft owned and used by area businesses and residents,” said Meyer, who recognizes that all segments of the industry are needed to make an airport successful even as recent market conditions have led many airports and FBOs to shift their focus upmarket as business aviation activity increases.
“It’s a nationwide trend that’s affecting aviation users everywhere. We’re hoping to work the problem locally to help alleviate some of the pressure that this has caused here in the past several years,” he added.
SAAA has already conducted a survey of the GA community in the region, and will soon present those results to the Savannah Airport Commission in order to quantify and characterize the GA community’s needs.
“We are fortunate to have such a large footprint, which can be utilized to replace some of the storage capacity and service levels that have been lost recently if we work together with the airport authority and stakeholders going forward,” said Meyer.
NBAA Southeast Regional Director Greg Voos said groups like SAAA are beneficial to the aviation industry as a whole and encourages area pilots, aircraft owners and other stakeholders to engage with SAAA.
“Although this group focuses on local issues, it’s important that NBAA and its membership work with organizations like SAAA because in a lot of ways, our goals and our challenges are similar all over the country,” said Voos. “Strong local and regional organizations lead to a strong global industry.”