Press-Republican

March 1, 2013

Clinton County gets tenant for airport

JOE LoTEMPLIO
Press-Republican

PLATTSBURGH — Clinton County has a new tenant at Plattsburgh International Airport.

Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. will be given a one-year deal to lease a hangar at the airport to store helicopters.

The deal is not expected to create any local jobs, but it will bring the county $200,000 in annual rent, which will go toward operation of the airport.

“This is a very nice lease for us,” County Legislature Chairman Jimmy Langley (R-Area 7, Peru) told the Press-Republican.

SITE NEAR FLIGHT LINE

Sikorsky, which is based in Connecticut, produces a variety of helicopters for military and commercial use. Some of their more well-known products are Black Hawk and Seahawks helicopters.

The company also has produced the helicopters used for transporting every American president since Dwight Eisenhower.

Deputy County Administrator Rodney Brown said the helicopters will be stored in Nose Dock 2 on the east side of the flight line.

The building, which was recently renovated, has been sitting empty for the last two years. Federal Express and United Parcel Service had formerly leased the building.

Brown said about 20 helicopters can fit in the hangar.

The aircraft will be stored until they can be distributed to purchasers.

Brown said the lease should be finalized by sometime in April.

POSSIBLE TESTING

Legislator Sara Rowden (D-Area 4, Town of Plattsburgh), who serves on the Airport Committee, said the helicopters will be trucked in and stored. 

“They won’t be flying in and out of here, but there has been some discussion of them possibly doing some testing at some point, and we certainly have the room for that,” she said.

Sikorsky had a plant in Big Flats, near Ithaca, until the start of this year, when it was closed. Citing cuts in the federal defense budget and a continuing weakness in its helicopter business, Sikorsky shut down the plant, with more than 550 jobs lost.

LINK TO CANADA

Rowden said Sikorsky has clients in Canada, which made the Plattsburgh

location ideal.

“This works for them and if they need more space in the future we can accommodate them,” she said.

Legislators unanimously approved the deal Wednesday night.

The airport was opened in 2007 on the flight line of the former Plattsburgh Air Force Base. It was built with about $40 million in funds from the Federal Aviation Administration’s Military Airport Program.

The county is now in the midst of a major expansion, which will triple the size of the terminal. The project will be paid for by revenue generated from flights, parking and tenants.

‘BIG HELP’

Rowden said inking Sikorsky is vital.

“This absolutely is a big help to the airport,” she said.

“This is how it is supposed to work, and we are very happy to have this company here.”

Email Joe LoTemplio: jlotemplio@pressrepublican.com