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Fri, Jul 13, 2007

Frontier Airlines Partners With JAX Startup For Ground Operations

Company Will Also Retrofit Seats On Airbus Fleet

The Jacksonville Aviation Authority and First Coast Aerospace Inc. announced Tuesday the launch of a new aircraft maintenance and repair company based at Jacksonville International Airport (JAX).

First Coast Aerospace, founded by industry veterans Merrill L. Woods and Gilmer "Tripp" Carter III, may be a start-up operation, but it's kicking off operations with a significant project.

The 12-employee company won a contract to replace all the seating in a fleet of Frontier Airlines' aircraft. The first of the 10 Airbus A318s and 49 Airbus A319s to be retrofitted with new, lighter seats and TV monitors arrived at JAX Tuesday.

Under terms of the contract, First Coast Aerospace workers must complete the seating retrofit and have each plane on its way in 36 hours. It will take 15 months to complete work on all 59 planes.

In addition to the seat modification project, First Coast Aerospace has been contracted to handle the ground support operations on Frontier Airlines jets that arrive at JAX.

"As a startup company, we are thrilled about our relationship with a major carrier such as Frontier Airlines," said company president Woods. "We intend to show Frontier and the aviation industry that we have the expertise and capability here in Jacksonville to perform at the highest level."

"We look forward to working with First Coast as they help make our award-winning product even more comfortable and fuel-efficient," said Frontier Airlines Senior Vice President of Operations Chris Collins. "And we are confident that First Coast Aerospace will do a great job retrofitting our Airbus fleet."

Woods and Carter started their business after nearly 50 years of combined aircraft maintenance experience with major airlines and aircraft maintenance and repair operators. Between them, Woods and Carter, who is vice president and general manager, have performed maintenance and repair most types of commercial aircraft now flying in the US.

"The aviation market is growing and we see a strong need for a repair facility like First Coast Aerospace," Carter said. "A number of factors are driving demand. The number of low-cost carriers continues to grow; airlines are outsourcing more and more of their repair and maintenance work; and, the fleet of aircraft in the US is aging."

"First Coast Aerospace is exactly the kind of promising company we want to attract to Jacksonville," said John Clark, CEO and Executive Director of the Jacksonville Aviation Authority, which owns and manages JAX, Cecil, Herlong and Craig Airport. "The fact that Frontier and First Coast Aerospace selected Jacksonville speaks well for our burgeoning aviation industry."

"This is a wonderful new addition to our growing aviation sector both at JAX and Cecil Field," said Jerry Mallot, executive vice president of the Cornerstone economic development program and executive vice president of the Jacksonville Regional Chamber of Commerce.

"Aviation maintenance, repair and overhaul is one of our targeted industries in the Jacksonville area and this announcement is great news."



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