Airport seeking new tenant

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Covington County Economic Development Commission and the South Alabama Regional Airport Authority are looking for a new tenant after DRS opted not to renew the lease that expires Dec. 31, 2014.

The announcement was made in a press release from the airport Wednesday morning.

DRS Technologies originally leased the large hangar at Andalusia Regional Airport in 2012. At the time, company officials said they hoped to do aircraft maintenance and upgrades at SARA.

DRS extended its original contract once, and originally indicated it would like to extend the contract again.

The DRS contract has allowed the Airport Authority to service the debt on the hangar, which is approximately $45,000 per month. The cities of Andalusia and Opp, as well as the Covington County Commission, secured that debt along with the Airport Authority, when the facility originally was built for EJM.

DRS officials were complimentary of their local experience.

“Since opening the DRS Technologies facility at the South Alabama Regional Airport three years ago we have made many attempts to bring business to the wiregrass region of southern Alabama,” Mike Mount director of public affairs for DRS said.  “Unfortunately, the environment for the maintenance, modernization, repair and overhaul business was not strong enough to support our presence at the airfield and we will be closing the facility at the end of 2014.

“DRS Technologies deeply appreciates all of the support we received from the local, state and Congressional leaders as well as those in the community who have assisted our efforts,” Mount said.

Airport Authority attorney Tom Albritton said DRS also invested a lot of their own money into the infrastructure of that building.

“DRS requested an extension starting Jan. 1, 2015, and the board agreed, and on terms that DRS wanted,” Albritton said. “The airport had no advance notice that this was going to happen until DRS announced, but it is our hope that a new tenant will be located when the lease expires on Dec. 31, just as one has been every other time the hangar has been vacated. “