As New Jersey runs out of room for people looking to store corporate jets and small business aircraft, Lehigh Valley International Airport seeks to fill the void by building one of their own.
The Lehigh Northampton Airport Authority board of governors approved the award of four bids for the construction of Hangar 11, a business aviation hangar, at the authority’s board meeting Tuesday.
The board approved Grace Industries Inc. of East Allen Township as the general contractor for the 54,000-square-foot project, a steel hangar that would go up on the southwest portion of the Hanover Township, Lehigh County airfield.
The three other bids are for the following companies: Boro Construction of King of Prussia for the electrical work; Shannon A. Smith of Myerstown for the heating, ventilation and air conditioning and Guy M. Cooper Inc. of Willow Grove for the plumbing.
Ryan Meyer, director of planning and programming for the airport authority said the airport authority received bids from 18 different contractors.
Tom Stoudt, executive director of the airport authority, said the overall cost of the project is $16 million but a $6 million state grant will help offset that cost. There’s also an opportunity next year for the airport authority to apply for an additional state grant, he added.
Construction should begin in about 60 days, with a 10-month construction timetable, he said.
“We want to focus on building it as efficient as possible,” Stoudt said.
LVIA is running out of capacity for people looking for this type of space and receives a lot of requests for extra hangar space, said Ryan Meyer, director of planning and programming for the airport authority.
Board members appeared to agree.
The feeder airports are all at capacity in New Jersey, said Charles Diacont, chairperson of the authority board. These airports have many issues for logistics in their hangar space that benefit us, he added.
The rise in steel prices also affected the construction cost, Meyer said, noting that the price of steel is “very high right now.”
Ed Lozano, secretary/treasurer for the airport authority, said they are approving the budget for the construction of the hangar and an extra $2 million for the project, largely tied to the rising price of steel.
“The prices are not going down,” Diacont said. “We have a 90-day lock on steel prices.”
The hangar can accommodate a 100,000-pound aircraft, the next generation-type of aircraft, added Stoudt.
“Having a product like this means having that larger corporate tenant, we can have them [and also smaller ones],” Stoudt said. “We have two letters of intent for 50 percent of the space.”
Though he declined to disclose the tenants, he did say they were new business aviation customers.
The hangar also gives the airport the opportunity to gain revenue through the lease of office space, hangar rentals and fuel sales, Stoudt said.
Board members also cited the continued increase in passenger traffic as furthering the airport’s economic growth.
LVIA also reported its figures for March, which showed 66,267 passengers traveled through the airport last month, a 14.3 percent increase from March 2017, which saw 57,977 passengers.
The results marked the sixth consecutive month of positive passenger growth, going back to October 2017.