Smith Reynolds airport lease could be finalized in next few days
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WINSTON-SALEM - Smith Reynolds Airport could finalize a lease later this week that would keep the last remnant of the former Piedmont Airlines at the airport.
An official said the lease would contribute to the long term financial health of the airport, which has struggled since Pace Airlines ceased operations two years ago. Smith Reynolds and Piedmont Propulsion Systems are putting the final touches on a 10-year lease with three 10-year options that over 40 years would generate $6.5 million in revenue for the airport .
"We're very excited to work out a deal with them to keep that workforce here and allow them to enter into a facility that's gonna allow them to grow and expand," said airport director Mark Davidson.
Piedmont Propulsion employs 34 people in propeller repairs and overhauls. It is the airport's last piece of Piedmont Airlines, purchased by U.S. Air Group in 1987.
"Some of our employees have been here for 42 years," said the company's vice president and general manager Sammy Oakley.
The company is also looking to expand.
"We expect to, within the next five years, hopefully hire another 25 or 30 employees as our expansion progresses," said Oakley.
The lease would keep roughly $168,000 a year in the airport's revenue stream. It's good news for Smith Reynolds, which has faced financial challenges in recent months.
"When Pace Airlines filed bankruptcy that hit the airport pretty hard financially. Since that time we've tried to diversify our revenue streams," said Davidson.
Davidson said Smith Reynolds and Piedmont Propulsion were a good fit, as they fit into the areas officials we're trying to grow, such as maintenance repair and overhaul business.
“We hope that other companies like Piedmont Propulsion will follow suit," said Davidson.
Incentive money from the state, county, city and airport commission helped seal the deal.