IBJOpinion

EDITORIAL: Airport victory just a warm-up

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share
IBJ Editorial

Not all success stories are flashy. Witness the quiet resurrection of the former United Airlines maintenance facility at Indianapolis International Airport.

When United announced in 1993 it would build its 1.7-million-square-foot, state-of-the-art repair base here, it was billed as one of the biggest economic development victories in the city’s history.

A decade later, the celebratory mood of the early 1990s was a distant memory. United, which was in bankruptcy reorganization, walked away from the facility and the promise to employ 6,300 highly paid aircraft maintenance workers there by 2004.

The $800 million project, which sucked up $300 million in state and local incentives, was officially a bust.

But the Indianapolis Airport Authority, which was saddled with the mammoth property, didn’t panic—or hang a for-sale sign in front of a building it had little hope of selling. The quasi-government agency that runs the airport instead went quietly and effectively about the business of finding new tenants. Seven years later, the airport authority is looking savvy for what it has achieved.

Though the property employs only about 1,400—not half of the 3,000 who worked there at its peak—the 12-hangar building is substantially full, and there’s even talk of expanding it.

The anchor tenant is Chicago-based AAR Corp., an aircraft parts and maintenance company that took a chance when it agreed to lease one hangar there. It now occupies 10 hangars full of a hodgepodge of jets being repaired for a host of domestic carriers and the U.S. Marines.

The balance of space in the building houses repair operations of locally based Republic Airlines, a drug packaging and shipping facility and a logistics firm that ships pharmaceuticals between Europe and Indianapolis.

The maintenance center isn’t just full; it’s eking out a profit. Operating expenses have been slashed from $15 million a year when United was running the show to $8.3 million under the airport authority. Revenue for 2010 is projected at $8.8 million.

The maintenance facility’s resurgence is a testament to the effectiveness of the airport authority, which now faces a challenge even more daunting than an empty, cavernous maintenance center.

Later this month, the airport authority will release a land use plan that will guide the development of 80,000 acres of airport property for the next 30 to 50 years. Included in the plan are the land and buildings vacated two years ago with the opening of the midfield terminal.

The challenges—and the opportunities—are immense. Decisions the airport authority makes over the next few years have the potential to put the airport on sound financial footing for years to come and could convert relics of the city’s aviation past into a magnet for economic growth.

We hope the rebirth of the maintenance base is a hint of what’s to come.•

__________

To comment on this editorial, write to ibjedit@ibj.com.

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
 
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. Yes sir keep cashing those 300K a year checks direct to IMS, while millions disappear from the teams like Rahal's. Guess there wasn't enough ka- ching going around to keep Sarah Fisher in business without their "merger". LOL._____.Meanwhile back in Realville the series with the "best racing in the world" drew what appeared to be about 5000 live spectators ( and probably 1500 of those Target "freebies", and was beaten in the ratings by a series that reportedly consists of "parades" and aired while most people are still sleeping. That will generate those big ka-chings for sure. :-). But, hey, as long as the Speedway gets the cash who gives a damn about the teams?

  2. Welcome to PETERSON LOAN AGENCY Company (A Personalized Service for All Your Financial Needs) We, Liberal Investment Company Providers offers loan at a very low interest rate of 2%, we offer Personal loans, Debt Consolidation Loan, Venture Capital, Business Loan, Educational Loan, Home Loan, and Loan for any reason and urgent needs!. with a maximum duration of 30 years. Have you been turned down by your bank? Do you have bad credit? Do you have unpaid bills? Are you in debt? Do you need to set up a business? Worry no more as we are here to offer you a low interest loan. Our loan ranges from $5,000-USD (Five Thousand US dollars) to $50, 000,000.00.(Fifty Million US dollars). We also lend in USA DOLLARS EURO and POUNDS ! Fill in this form and forward it to our email: PETERSONLOANAGENCY@GMAIL.COM 1. Your Full names:_______ 2. Contact address:_______ 3. Country Of Residence:______ 4. Loan Amount Required:________ 5. Duration:_____ 6. Gender:_____ 7. Occupation:________ 8. Monthly Income:_______ 9. Date Of Birth:________ 10.Telephone Number:________ 11. Purpose of loan:_________ Yours In Service, MR PERRY, PETERSONLOANAGENCY@GMAIL.COM

  3. If I could actually get the prices...I would do this on my own. We need laws that force provides to publish the costs they will charge. Everyone else gives you the price in advance...except hospitals.

  4. I was under the impression that fencing is not allowed on a front yard and that on a corner, both sides are considered "front" yards, therefore can't be fenced without a variance. Also impedes the visibility for drivers at the intersection. Am I understanding this correctly? Might be why a fence was not included in the plans and a request for a variance will have to be made?.

  5. I was a big fan of Cowards and Carrots, which I got a chance to see at the show. It's currently on Kickstarter, but the designer also put out What's He Building in There last year, which got a fair amount of buzz.

ADVERTISEMENT