Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Lehigh Valley International Airport (KABE) preparing for more corporate jets

The Lehigh-Northampton Airport Authority is in talks with a Florida aviation company that would spend $5 million to $10 million to build a hangar for more corporate jets and another for small private planes.

The authority's contract with Clearwater-based Brookline Aviation Development would be the first allowing a private developer to build at Lehigh Valley International Airport and would open the authority to more corporate and private jets.

"We have a lot of aircraft owners looking for space and we just don't have it to give. We've had to turn people away," said Charles Everett Jr., airport executive director. "This will help us get more hangars on the airfield, without having to shoulder the capital costs ourselves."

Under the proposed deal, Brookline Aviation would build a 50,000- to 60,000-square-foot bulk hangar on the southwest section of the airport that would be large enough to handle 12 to 18 corporate and charter planes, depending on the size of the aircraft. It would explore building a second hangar on a northern section of the airport that could house 20 to 30 smaller private planes.

The authority has a letter of intent to have Brookline develop the hangars, but details of the agreement still must be worked out before building can begin, Everett said.

The airport authority would likely sign a 30-year general lease to use each hangar, and then lease space in the hangars to corporate and private airplane owners. Those could be the first of several new hangars at the airport if the demand for space continues to grow, said Darren Betters, authority director of business and commercial services.

LVIA has more than 200 acres of open land that could be used for new hangars.

"Hangar space continues to be a premium," Betters told authority board members Tuesday. "We've moved things around as much as we can. We're beyond full. It's time to build."

Beyond the commercial jets that carry roughly 700,000 passengers a year, LVIA is home to 110 planes owned by businesses or private owners. Some are kept in one of the dozens of single-plane T hangars and a few are merely tied down outdoors. Others, which include planes owned by corporations such as Air Products, New World Aviation and MedEscort International are kept in one of the 10 bulk hangars on the airfield in Hanover Township, Lehigh County.

The hangars would be built on land owned by the authority, but the buildings would be owned by Brookline Aviation.

Everett said the airport doesn't have the cash to build its own hangars, but can still net $500,000 a year in lease fees by having Brookline do the building.

"In terms of priorities, there are still a lot of bricks-and-mortar projects to get to before we could move on to new hangars," Everett said. "This will enable us to get them done a lot sooner."

Brookline principal Bill Yeomans Jr. declined to comment.

Also during the monthly board meeting, authority members announced that a yet-to-be-determined road at the airport will be renamed "Bert Daday Drive," after the 28-year board member who died last month. On the board from 1987 until he died Nov. 25 at age 85, Daday was the authority's longest-serving member.

"I don't think anyone will ever match that," said board Chairman Marc Troutman. "He obviously loved what he did. When I think of Bert, I think of service and integrity."

Source:  http://www.mcall.com

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