Gulf Air Group coming to airport twin hangars

Published 1:15 pm Wednesday, August 7, 2019



A new business is coming to the twin hangars at South Alabama Regional Airport.

The SARA airport authority approved a five-year lease agreement with Gulf Air Group of Crestview for Covington Maintenance Center.

President and CEO Tim Rhyne said that the company has roots in Covington County already as a few of its employees are from here.

The company has been around since the late 1980s and specializes in maintenance and operation if of L-382s, which are civilian C-130s.

“We have been everywhere except Antarctica,” Rhyne said.

Rhyne has the second largest L-382 fleet in the world with four, but said the growth of his company is tied directly to maintenance.

The entire maintenance department has more than 100 employees, but at the Sanford location, they’ll employ 21-22 and that’s not counting the employees that will transient from Crestview.

Rhyne said that industry is small since there are only 65-70 L-382s in operation, but that they have the best dispatching rate.

In hiring, Rhyne said it’s not about the numbers to him, but about the quality of work and that they look for certain level of talent.

“It’s a challenge,” he said. “But for those we hire it will offer them a chance to travel as we get to know them better and know what their strengths are.”

Rhyne said that he is also working on workforce development to swap from helicopters to airplane maintenance.

“We will offer the training at our expense,” he said.

Rhyne and his staff are working on a job fair to take place later this month at the local location. More details are to come at a later date.

Rhyne said he feels confident in the ability to stay, which is why he committed to the five-year lease.

The lease began Aug. 1.

They have three, five-year renewals available at the end of five years.

The cost is $25,000 per month for the lease if the company meets the 15-employee threshold. If they do not, the lease agreement price increases.

The lease agreement replaces that of Yulista, who terminated their lease agreement to allow Gulf Air Group to gain access to the twin hangar complex.

Gulf Air Group has previously expressed interest in the twin hangars last year when the board approved the agreement with