Republic Airways planning training center south of airport

Republic Airways Holdings Inc. is planning a $3.85 million training center for pilots, flight and ground crews, and other employees near Indianapolis International Airport.

Indianapolis-based Republic, a regional contract carrier for larger airlines, would consolidate its current training operations from three central Indiana locations to the center, which could train as many as 5,000 employees annually.

The 40,000-square-foot project, to be built on five acres in the AmeriPlex industrial park on the west side, would entail relocating 62 current employees and adding six positions by 2017.

Republic and a development partner are seeking a seven-year property tax break on the project that would save $352,750 over the length of the deal. The Indianapolis Metropolitan Development Commission is set to hear the tax abatement request at 1 p.m. Wednesday. 

Republic currently operates training facilities in Plainfield, at Indianapolis International Airport, and at its headquarters on the northwest side. The new center—at 5303 Stanley Road, essentially due south of the airport’s entrance across Interstate 70—would include those operations and provide for additional training capacity, according to a city report on the tax break request.

Republic’s partner, Exploration Center LLC, would invest $3.85 million to develop the center and then lease it to the carrier.

Over the seven-year abatement, the center still would generate an estimated $266,000 in property taxes. After the abatement expires, the owner would pay about $88,400 per year.

The 62 jobs that would be relocated to the center pay an average wage of $22.62 per hour. The six new jobs would pay about $25 per hour.

City development staff has recommended approval of the abatement.

Republic is in the midst of a labor dispute with pilots. On July 27, its shares plummeted 55 percent after the firm slashed its profit outlook and predicted more flight interruptions due to the dispute. Shares rebounded later in the week.

The company also disclosed that it hired global advisory firm Seabury Group to evaluate options for its future.

Republic is suffering a dearth of pilots after the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration boosted the required flight experience for first officers sixfold, to 1,500 hours, and set new limits on duty times, the airline said. Attrition among existing workers has grown because the company hasn’t been able to reach a new labor contract with competitive pay rates.

If the abatement request receives preliminary approval from the MDC, the City-County Council would weigh in at its Aug. 17 meeting, to be followed by a public hearing for final MDC approval on Aug. 19.

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