By Rebecca Barnes, Prince William Living Publisher
Manassas native Alan Cook has always worked hard. Following in his father’s footsteps as a carpenter, Cook entered the construction field while attending
Osbourn High School and formed his own company following graduation. He said he learned early that work ethic was important. He put in long workdays and some sleepless nights, growing his business to include projects in Virginia, Maryland and Florida.
In 1979, Cook received his pilot’s license and took to the skies. At first, flying was for pleasure, such as taking his kids to the beach. In 2004, Cook opened his first aviation business, Next Flight, after winning a contract to sell fuel and provide maintenance and management of aircraft at Manassas Regional Airport.
In 2007, Cook sold the business. At the time of sale, Next Flight had 12 aircraft and more than $40 million in sales. Little did Cook know that his days of flight were far from over.
In less than a year, the new owners of Next Flight had closed its doors, giving Cook a chance to take flight again. In January 2008, he reopened the business as Metropolitan Aviation. Today, the company manages 14 private aircraft with 10 for charter. Metropolitan Aviation, which has 58 employees and an all-star client list, is one of the fastest growing charter companies in the region, making the Virginia Living “Best of Virginia” list in 2012 and 2013.
The private jet management and charter company, like its predecessor, is based at Manassas Regional Airport. Metropolitan Aviation owns and operates more than 40,000 square feet of hangar space, along with its own fuel farm, and manages one of the largest and most diverse charter fleets in the mid-Atlantic. The business also offers aircraft owners comprehensive management solutions, including Federal Aviation Administration certification and financial reporting that combines Metropolitan Aviation’s worldwide experience with home-based trust.
Prince William Living spoke with Alan Cook, CEO, and Jaquie Dalton, COO, of Metropolitan Aviation to learn more about how this local business is reaching such great heights.
PWL: Why did you choose the name Metropolitan Aviation?
Cook: We are located in the Washington metro area and wanted to reflect the region in our name.
PWL: Who makes up your client list?
Cook: Government officials, dignitaries, celebrities, sports figures, business owners and successful entrepreneurs.
PWL: Why do you think the private jet industry is growing?
Dalton: It’s a tool. It allows for faster travel. Meeting the scheduling demands allows for better deals to be made. Instead of having to leave a negotiation early, [clients]can stay and finish business. Security takes less time, privacy issues are reduced and the economics of private flight have become more transparent.
PWL: What are the differences between Metropolitan Aviation and its predecessor?
Dalton: The success of the previous company was driven by excess in the market [of entrepreneurs entering the industry]without fully understanding aviation. The success of the company is being fully qualified, understanding [private aviation]and living it. [Our] core value is the commitment to the industry itself, the people and staff involved, growing a very solid employee base in every department with a full understanding of this industry.
PWL: You are both involved in the Virginia and Kentucky equestrian communities, and Alan owns and races thoroughbreds. Any crossover between that and Metropolitan Aviation?
Dalton: Many businesses like to give back to things they believe in. We like to lend our success to thoroughbred racing. It is a commitment and passion for success. We just finished flying people to the [annual Breeders’ Cup World Championships in]California and back. Our Lexington, Ky., office is open with a client services representative and first aircraft after the new year.
PWL: Have you made other recent expansions?
Dalton: Our in-flight catering takes the highest quality food and chef-run fine dining experience and brings it to our clients in flight. Because of Alan’s commitment to Manassas, we wanted to make that same experience available to Old Town Manassas.
[Opened in May 2013], Airfare Cafe is a restaurant with an intriguing menu and fresh ingredients with a unique atmosphere.
To learn more about Metropolitan Aviation, located at 10661 Frank Marshall Lane in Manassas, visit metropolitanjets.com.
Airfare Cafe is located at 9255 Center Street, Suite 101, in Manassas. Hours of operation are Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. The space can be rented for private parties, and catering is offered. More information is available at airfarecafe.net or by calling 703-334-5071.
Publisher of Prince William Living and also Public Information Officer for the Occoquan-Woodbridge-Lorton Volunteer Fire Department (OWL VFD), Rebecca Barnes is a lifelong resident of Prince William. You can reach her at email@example.com.