Fly Arkansas LLC, an aviation services company based in Mountain Home, is poised to lease nearly 56,000 square feet of space in the 406,000-square-foot property that once housed the former Hawker Beechcraft completion facility at the state's largest airport in Little Rock.
On Tuesday, Taylor Scott, the company's managing member, said Fly Arkansas expects to begin renovating the space to suit its needs in early May and begin operations by August as the second fixed-based operator at Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport/Adams Field.
Scott said the company, which has eight full-time employees, will add nine more workers in Little Rock and spend more than $600,000 on renovations and improvements.
"We're growing pretty rapidly, and we have grown since we've started," Scott said. "We're doing some development in the charter world, and that's kind of why we picked Little Rock."
In addition to its main operation at Ozark Regional Airport in Midway, northwest of Mountain Home, Fly Arkansas is a fixed-based operator at the airport in Harrison, Scott said. A fixed-base operator provides fuel, parking, hangars and other services to private and business aircraft.
The lease committee of the Little Rock Municipal Airport Commission is to take up the lease proposal when it meets today. If approved, the agreement could go before the full board at its regular meeting Tuesday.
Airport staff members are recommending that the airport commission enter into the lease with Fly Arkansas.
Airport officials estimated that the empty Hawker facility costs more than $1 million annually in lost revenue and upkeep expenses.
"You're looking at about $600,000 of lost revenue and then approximately $400,000 for maintenance," the majority of which would be utilities such as heating and air for the facility, said airport spokesman Shane Carter.
The airport has been working to find new tenants for the Hawker Beechcraft facility since Hawker vacated it in 2013 as the company emerged from bankruptcy. The overall facility includes hangars, offices, production areas and storage. It also includes 11.5 acres of apron space that can be used to park aircraft.
The airport is still looking for more tenants. It is working with Jones Lang LaSalle, an international firm based in Chicago, and Sage Partners, which has offices in Little Rock and Fayetteville, to market the property.
Fly Arkansas' lease calls for the company to use space in two buildings totaling 55,882 square feet, as well as about 88,276 square feet of apron space for aircraft and about 47,800 square feet of automobile parking. The lease would cover 10 years and have a 10-year renewal option.
The lease is expected to cost the company a rounded amount of $14,661 per month, or $175,938 annually.
The company also will pay a flowage fee to the airport based on any fuel sold, at the rate of 7.8 cents per gallon. It also will be required to keep its fuel prices at or below those charged by fixed-base operators at five other comparable airports, Scott said the details of that arrangement, such as which five airports would be used to compare prices, still need to be worked out with airport officials and TAC Air.
TAC Air, a division of Truman Arnold Cos., is the Little Rock airport's other fixed-base operator.
Last year, Central Flying Service announced that it was transferring its hangar leases to TAC Air, which also took over Central's fuel services and ground handling operation. Central still offers maintenance, sales, charter and flight instruction at the Little Rock airport.
However, with the change, airport officials imposed a pricing requirement on TAC Air intended to keep the price of aviation fuel purchased by private pilots at Clinton National competitive with other airports.
Fly Arkansas started operations in 2006, according to its website.
In addition to being a fixed-base operator, it offers a range of services, including flight instruction, charter services, aircraft leasing and rental, as well as sales. It also offers scenic air tours. A division of Fly Arkansas, Plane Spares, is an aircraft parts supplier and distributor.
Business on 03/11/2015