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2 prospects considering twin hangars

Local leaders and members of the South Alabama Regional Airport Authority have two prospects interested in the airport’s twin hangars.

Jacob Morgan of the Covington County Economic Development Commission said his organization hosted a prospect last Friday who is looking to expand and possibly start a pilot training program.

“This is legitimate,” Morgan said. “These people are proven, and they’re doing a good job.

“Our infrastructure really impressed them. Hopefully, we will hear some more news about this soon. It could be a great thing, and definitely change this airport for the good.”

The prospects looked at the community college, airport facilities, and joined local political leaders for lunch.

CCEDC’s executive director, Rick Clifton, has a follow-up meeting with the company at the national Helio Expo this week, Morgan said.

Meanwhile, Jed Blackwell, director of South Alabama Regional Airport, said a second company which previously has shown interest in the twin hangars, will be on site this Friday to go through the facility and ensure it meets federal fire code requirements for government aircraft. The prospect is interested in leasing the facility for 18 months, Blackwell said.

The twin hangars were built in the early mid-2000s to house C130s for a company that planned to do work here. However, the government contract work never materialized, and the airport authority has had a number of short-term tenants since then.

At present, the hangars are not leased, which means the debt on the building – held separately by Covington County, the City of Andalusia and the City of Opp – is being paid by taxpayers. Under an agreement SARA has with those three entities, 5 percent of lease payments goes into a maintenance fund at the airport. With no rent coming in for the facility, those maintenance funds are being quickly depleted.