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Airport has big impact; more jobs expected

The South Alabama Regional Airport – and the industries located there – have a positive effect on the local economy.

That’s the message airport director Jed Blackwell delivered to the Andalusia Rotary Club this week.

“We are one of three general aviation airports in Alabama that are fully self-supported, without leaning on the city or state (for financing) for daily operations,” Blackwell said.

It is the airport’s ability to sell fuel to the military that makes that possible. Sixty to 70 helicopters per day land at the heliport to refuel, and the airport’s café is designed to attract the pilots to Andalusia for refueling.

In the past year, SARA has been ale to hire additional people, Blackwell said, including additional firefighters, and personnel to keep up the twin hangars located there.

The major employer at SARA, Vector Aerospace, is in the process of being acquired by Standard Arrow, which provides maintenance services for a number of different kinds of helicopters.

The company has a lease through 2023, and currently employs 100.

“They will grow to 120 next year, and hopefully be approaching 150 by the next,” he said. “Most are Covington County residents.”

Blackwell said Standard Arrow also is in the fixed wing market.