October 22, 2009 in Business

Airport board approves hangar deal

Smaller project expected to add 130 workers
By The Spokesman-Review
 

The Spokane Airport Board Wednesday approved a consolidated maintenance and painting hangar where as many as 130 workers could be employed in two years.

The 37,800-square-foot hangar will be leased by Associated Painters Inc., which will share the space with Cascade Aerospace. Associated has already agreed to lease a 2.5-acre pad for the hangar.

Cascade in May opened an aircraft maintenance shop in another hangar about 200 feet away on Spokane International Airport’s south side.

The two companies had proposed a larger second structure, but the hangar was downsized when the Washington Community Economic Revitalization Board in May approved a $4 million loan for the project instead of the $6.8 million sought by airport officials.

Since then, said airport Deputy Director Mark Jucht, airport and company officials have come up with a plan that will have Associated making space available to Cascade, depending on work flow.

The smaller hangar will reduce estimated employment somewhat, airport spokesman Todd Woodard said, but the total between the two companies and two hangars could still reach 400.

He said the project will cost an estimated $6.5 million, with the airport and city of Spokane, which will extend utilities into the site, augmenting the CERB money.

Jucht said construction could begin early next year, with completion by early 2011.

The board also approved a $29.4 million 2010 budget 6 percent below this year’s. But the airlines will pay higher fees and rents to offset the effects of the merger this year of Delta and Northwest. Passengers will pay slightly more for garage parking; $9.50 per day instead of $9.

Despite the increases, said airport Finance Manager Dave Armstrong, costs per passenger for the airlines – an estimated $4.52 in 2010 – will remain among the lowest for comparably sized airports and well below the $17 in Seattle and $10 in Portland.

The number of passengers embarking at the airport this year is down 14 percent through the end of September, he said. Projections through 2012 do not show a return to 2008 levels.

Airport Director Neal Sealock attributed much of the passenger loss to the September 2008 cancellation of service by Express Jet. Southwest is adding service to Denver, he noted, and United Airlines will be adding a third daily flight to San Francisco.

“Our community continues to attract service,” he said.

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