A fuelling crew member works to get a WestJet plane refuelled at the Brandon Municipal Airport. That’s just one of several duties performed by the newly named Brandon Flight Centre, which has grown out of the Brandon Flying Club. The club will retain its name as one part of the organization. (FILE PHOTO)
The Brandon Flying Club will retain its name, but will be just one part of the newly named Brandon Flight Centre, according the organization’s general manager.
"We’ve changed the name for marketing," Brandon Flight Centre GM Frederick Fenton said. "We’re a lot more than a flying club. We do aviation maintenance and repair, we have a large hangar, aviation fuelling where we look after WestJet and all of the commercial planes, and we have the flight school, which is now the (Brandon) Flight Academy that trains people to become a student pilot or a commercial pilot."
While the club, which was established in 1936, remains an important component, Fenton said the branding change is designed to raise the profile of the organization.
He hopes to market the academy to students in countries with a growing middle class, including China and India.
"These new activities will help sustain the flying club for another 80 years," Fenton said. "I’m trying to expand, improve and internationalize it, and the stronger we are the more profit we make that we can put back into the club, facility and the membership benefits."
The name change was voted on by the club’s membership, which numbers about 260, at the most recent annual general meeting. Fenton said it passed unanimously after he explained the vision for the centre.
Last year, the club lost more than $100,000, Fenton said.
A major investment of about $250,000 was made in a fuel truck that will service WestJet and corporate jet traffic.
"It’s a sizable investment but something that will benefit the air field substantially," Fenton said.
With more than four decades experience in the industry, Fenton hopes to start turning a profit and reinvesting in the centre.
"No one can afford to run an organization that loses thousands of dollars," he said. "I was brought in and have been given the authority by the board to make some changes here and hopefully by the end of this year we can start to turn a profit."
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Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition June 7, 2014