Thursday, January 19, 2012

Worcester airport expansion plan due

BOSTON — Massachusetts Port Authority officials are expected to act tomorrow on proposals for a major expansion of corporate aircraft and private jet charter service facilities at Worcester Regional Airport.

The expansion plans are expected to result in new investment at the airport, including new hangars and support facilities for corporate aircraft, as well as a significant number of new jobs, along with an increase in corporate and general aviation operations.

The board of the state agency that owns and operates Worcester Regional Airport sought competitive sealed bid proposals at the end of last year for a new, fixed-base operator service, which includes housing and maintaining aircraft and new aircraft facilities.

The request for proposals from Massport required the successful bidder to offer fixed-base operations at both Worcester Regional Airport and Hanscom Field in Bedford.

The agency is expected to choose one of several companies that bid on the proposal at its meeting today.

One bidder, Rectrix, is a fixed-base operator at Hyannis Airport and Sarasota, Fla., and has other aviation services at Hanscom Field.

The company offers a full-service private jet charter and management business, with 80 employees in Massachusetts and Florida. The full list of bidders was not immediately available from Massport.

Massport board member Michael P. Angelini, a Worcester lawyer, said the plans should result in additional good-paying jobs at the airport and expand use of the airport by business and corporate aircraft, which is very low.

“It’s an opportunity to have more planes housed there in an indoor, high-quality facility,” Mr. Angelini said, adding that Massport officials sought to include the Worcester fixed-base operation bid with the Hanscom fixed operation bid, as a way of securing interest in such an operation at the Worcester airport that might otherwise not have occurred.

He said it also offers the successful bidder an opportunity to get in on the ground floor of business aircraft operations at the airport with a modest investment.

Massport spokesman Richard Walsh said three firms submitted proposals, but he did not identify them.

Massport offered two sites for development at the Worcester airport and offered bidders the option of proposing development of either one or both of those sites.

The first site is 5.5 acres of flat, paved, underused land with landside and airfield access. It is east of the Euro American Air Freight Forwarding operations, at the undeveloped end of a decommissioned runway north of Taxiway F and the T-hangar general aviation facility at the airfield.

The second site is 4.5 acres west of the Airfield Maintenance Garage in an undeveloped area.

Both sites were identified in the 2008 Worcester Regional Airport master plan as suitable for corporate or general aviation facilities.

Massport has encouraged proposals to use the first site for fixed-base operations to support corporate and general aviation planes. They said the second site is available for additional corporate and general aviation facilities including corporate hangars, T-hangars, and aircraft parking.

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