Friday, February 08, 2013

PENNSYLVANIA: Forks Township Moyer Aviation facility moving to Mount Pocono area airport

Vern Moyer, of Moyer Aviation, stands beside a plane in February 2011 at Braden Airpark in Forks Township. 
Photo Credit:   Express-Times

After 16 years of providing flight services out of Braden Airpark in Forks Township, Moyer Aviation Inc. is moving to Pocono Mountains Municipal Airport in the spring. 

 The decision was difficult and discussions about the move went on for about six months, Vern Moyer, president of Moyer Aviation, said Thursday.

Braden is owned by the Lehigh-Northampton Airport Authority. The authority has hired New Jersey-based Rockefeller Group to study 15 properties for possible sale, including the Sullivan Trail airpark, to help pay off a $16 million debt by a 2015 deadline.

Moyer called the potential sale of Braden one of the factors in his decision to move. If he stayed and then the airport was sold, it would be hard to find another facility to move to, he said. The Pocono Mountains airport also is offering a larger facility for Moyer Aviation.

Authority Executive Director Charles R. Everett Jr. confirmed Thursday that Moyer had given notice to terminate the lease and stated, “No decisions have been made to close Braden Airpark.”

Moyer said he plans to move out of Braden by the end of April and start operations by May 1 at the Pocono Mountains Municipal Airport, in Coolbaugh Township, Monroe County.

Longer lease secured

“We found another opportunity with a longer term lease and we feel more comfortable with that,” Moyer said in a phone interview Thursday. “You can’t always find another location that quick.”

Moyer said he had a monthly agreement with the Lehigh-Northampton Airport Authority at Braden. The Pocono Mountains Municipal Airport offered a three-year lease with two five-year options, allowing the facility to potentially remain there for 13 years. Moyer noted investments at Braden would be difficult to decide in 30 days under the monthly lease.

“It’s of sentimental value, this airport, you get attached to it,” Moyer said of Braden. “It’s a beautiful place here. We hate to leave.”

Moyer Aviation will continue to offer maintenance, charter and flight training at the new location, as well as airplane rides and tours. The facility also will transfer training records and credits, as well as its 20 employees if they choose, Moyer said.

The charter will continue and passengers will be picked up at all the same locations with little difference in ferry time, Moyer said, noting expanded service also will be offered from the Poconos, Hazleton, Pa., and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre areas.

“We’ll be doing the same thing there that we are doing here,” Moyer said.

Supervisors unaware

Forks elected officials were unaware Thursday of Moyer Aviation’s move.

“As of now, it’s news to me,” Supervisor Bob Egolf said.

“This is an interesting and sad turn of events,” Supervisor David Billings said. “Moyer Aviation has been a pillar of our community for a long time. I would need to better understand the details of the move.”

Billings then questioned if Moyer Aviation’s move was signaling a future sale for Braden Airpark and said he wanted to hear from the airport authority.

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