Air Elite Blog

Humble Beginnings and Restoration in St. Thomas, USVI

Greetings from St. Thomas, United States Virgin Islands (USVI), and welcome to the 5th Edition of A World of Air Elite!

Although this has been a difficult few weeks with the destruction that Irma and Maria brought, we are fortunate that our team is all well. St. Thomas Jet Center is currently serving the aircraft delivering much needed supplies and support teams. The rebuilding and removal of debris will
quickly be underway. It will take time but we are all committed to ensuring that St. Thomas is restored to its prior glorious state. We look forward to receiving our customers in the near future and all those who visit St. Thomas. Our spirit is not diminished. This great island will continue to serve the Gateway to the Caribbean for many years to come.

As Vice Chairman of the Air Elite Board, it gives me great pleasure to speak to you about our corner of the world and to thank World Fuel Services for all of their support that is free flowing, consistent and provided by such capable and professional staff.

Given the number of decades I’ve been in the aviation industry, how about a little history?

Perhaps you have wondered how a company like World Fuel Services began. Back in the 80s, I remember when Captain Phil Bradley, a pilot for Eastern Airlines, and a small group of his friends started re-marketing jet fuel to local airlines out of an office on 36th Street adjacent to the Miami International Airport. You remember the 80s – sideburns, mullets and shoulder pads! That early effort by a few dedicated individuals who took a chance on a new concept was actually the beginning of what we now know of as World Fuel Services. Their current offices in Doral are not far from that original 36th Street location!

Or perhaps you’d like to learn about the history of St.Thomas?

Our islands are part of the USVI, an un-incorporated territory of the United States, 1145 miles southeast of Miami. We are physically situated just a few miles from the British Virgin Islands. Naturally we operate under two different forms of governance, but we do share similar values
and culture and we are all proud of our international aviation accomplishments. As a point of interest, March 31, 2017 marked the 100th anniversary of the purchase of the USVI from Denmark for $25M in gold – what a buy!

Even more history?

We are currently celebrating our 21st anniversary at St.Thomas Jet Center, which is one of seven subsidiaries of Southcorp Holdings Group, whose ownership rests with my wife, Susan Hancock and me. For more than two decades, we have provided a full range of aviation services including fueling, handling, aircraft maintenance, concierge services, air-to-yacht services, catering, hangars, rental
cars, and conference facilities – all with the warmth and attention to detail typical of an owner / operator location.

Our humble beginnings started in a trailer on the north side of the airfield. Over the past 21 years, we have built and refurbished two hangars, constructed our own independent fuel farm (with the assistance of World Fuel Services), and added a private fleet of rental cars and our
own FAR Part 135 charter airline, offering fixed-wing and rotorcraft. We also completed construction on a dedicated U.S. Customs facility in 2014 to better service our clients.

In addition to aviation, we also offer marine and land fuel operations through Tri-Island Energy. This expansion has allowed us to fully accommodate our customers who fly in on a jet and transfer to a yacht. With the largest and deepest mega yacht marina located in our downtown harbor, we are able to fully satisfy our clients’ needs for both aviation and marine fuel. The introduction of this fueling division has made us the largest supplier of ultra-low sulfur diesel to nearly all marinas in the area.

We are now about to embark on two additional projects. First, St. Thomas Jet Center is tripling the size of our existing jet fuel storage to accommodate more commercial fueling activities. Second, the construction of an additional passenger terminal will begin soon to facilitate expanded U.S. Coast Guard, Army, Air Force, and other Department of Defense operations. These are exciting times!

World Fuel Services is an important contributor to our success. Fuel supply logistics is paramount in our day-today operations. Additionally, our Air Elite membership provides the opportunity for us to reward our valued customers with elevated FlyBuys Rewards, access to The Ritz-Carlton training, “Diamond Difference” programs, and the expanded benefits of World Fuel Services Contract Fuel and AVCARD.

St. Thomas is a special place to live and St. Thomas Jet Center is a special place to work. Although we will be rebuilding our facilities over the next few months, we will continue to offer our guests beautiful Caribbean blue seas, comforting trade winds, and some of the best sailing and
sport fishing in the world.

We welcome you to visit us or visit any of the 77 uniquely exceptional Air Elite Network Diamond Locations around the world.

Safe travels!

Michael J. Hancock
Owner / Operator,
St. Thomas Jet Center
Vice Chairman, Air Elite Board

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