New partnership at Chennault announced - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Chennault-AAR partnership expected to create 500 new jobs, hundreds of indirect jobs

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) -

Gov. Bobby Jindal announced a new partnership Friday between Chennault International Airport and AAR, a company headquartered in Wood Dale, Illinois. According to officials with Louisiana Economic Development, the new partnership is expected to create 500 new jobs, plus hundreds of indirect jobs.

"The aviation contractor will retain approximately 250 former employees of a predecessor, Aeroframe Services, while creating 500 new direct jobs with an average salary of more than $46,600 a year, plus benefits. LED estimates the project will result in an additional 526 new indirect jobs in the area, for a total of more than 1,000 new jobs," officials said in a release.

Officials said as a result of this new partnership, the long-term partnership between Aeroframe and Chennault Airport has been terminated at Aeroframe's request.

No one explained why the change was allowed to happen, nor did anyone answer any key questions about the future of hundreds of Aeroframe employees. Instead, officials focused on AAR taking the helm.

"At Aeroframe's request, their contract has been terminated, and all hangars and assets formally used by Aeroframe will be taken over by AAR," said Randy Robb, Chennault International Airport's executive director.

Jindal and AAR Corp. Chairman and CEO David Storch announced Friday that the company will establish a 750-job aircraft Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) operation at Chennault International Airport.

"The company will occupy approximately 520,000-square-feet of MRO service and administrative space, plus another 118,000-square-feet in Hangar H, a new high-bay, wide-body aviation hangar currently under construction at the airport. Louisiana committed $17.5 million toward construction of the $21.5 million Hangar H. The new hangar made Chennault a particularly attractive site for AAR's major expansion into Louisiana," the release continues.

Jindal said as part of the incentives to bring AAR to Lake Charles, SOWELA Technical Community College will receive $3.7 million to upgrade and expand its aviation program so that the College can provide an ever-increasing number of highly trained students skilled in aviation technology. Read more about that HERE.

According to AAR's website, the company is a leading provider of diverse products and services to the worldwide commercial aviation and government/defense industries. The company employs more than 6,000 people at more than 60 locations in 13 countries.

"Today is a great day for Calcasieu Parish and our entire state," said Jindal in a release from AAR . "Chennault continues to be one of the biggest economic drivers in Southwest Louisiana and our entire state. In addition to a world-class workforce and an outstanding business climate, Louisiana offers extraordinary sites like Chennault International Airport that make our state a leader in logistics and infrastructure. All of these resources contribute to Louisiana's economic momentum, and AAR is one of many companies that have taken notice as they continue to invest here, creating more great opportunities for our people."

Commenting on the signing, Storch said: "I want to thank Gov. Jindal, the airport authority and the state's economic development agency for partnering with us and moving swiftly to reach this agreement. We look forward to becoming a vital part of the Louisiana business community and helping to elevate Lake Charles' position as an aviation center of excellence. The new operation builds upon the Company's industry-leading position by adding capability for AAR to expand into the wide-body market."

"The AAR presence will expand the types and numbers of aircraft that will be worked at the Chennault facility," said Robb. "Since AAR is the largest aircraft Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul organization in the United States and the third-largest in the world, Chennault anticipates significant growth in both jobs and commerce at the site. AAR selected the Chennault location based upon the fact that the facilities met their needs and because of the apparent teamwork they observed between the State of Louisiana, Calcasieu Parish, the City of Lake Charles and Chennault."

Commenting on the Sowela upgrade announcement, Dr. Neil Aspinwall, Chancellor, said, "This is a very important day for SOWELA. As the College is uniquely positioned to become a key source of the training needed by the workers who will be employed by AAR as well as Northrop Grumman, both of which are literally next door. This also enhances and further supports our reputation of providing skilled workers to specialized industries."

Copyright 2013 KPLC. All rights reserved.

The following is a news release from AAR regarding the partnership:

WOOD DALE, Illinois, August 9, 2013 – AAR (NYSE: AIR) has signed an agreement with the Chennault International Airport Authority to open its 6th North American aircraft Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facility in Lake Charles, Louisiana, at the Chennault International Airport. AAR, the largest independent MRO provider in North America, will occupy approximately 520,000 square feet of MRO service and administrative space at the facility, capable of supporting maintenance operations for all wide-body aircraft, with expansion under way that will accommodate aircraft as large as the Airbus A380.

AAR initially will employ approximately 250 and anticipates hiring an additional 500 at the facility by 2017. The new operation significantly expands AAR's capabilities, enabling the Company to accommodate a greater variety of aircraft and grow its Aviation Services business.

On Friday, AAR Chairman and CEO David P. Storch was joined by Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and representatives from the airport authority and state economic development agency for the formal announcement.

"Today is a great day for Calcasieu Parish and our entire state," said Gov. Jindal. "Chennault continues to be one of the biggest economic drivers in Southwest Louisiana and our entire state. In addition to a world-class workforce and an outstanding business climate, Louisiana offers extraordinary sites like Chennault International Airport that make our state a leader in logistics and infrastructure. All of these resources contribute to Louisiana's economic momentum, and AAR is one of many companies that have taken notice as they continue to invest here, creating more great opportunities for our people."

Commenting on the signing, Storch said: "I want to thank Gov. Jindal, the airport authority and the state's economic development agency for partnering with us and moving swiftly to reach this agreement. We look forward to becoming a vital part of the Louisiana business community and helping to elevate Lake Charles' position as an aviation center of excellence. The new operation builds upon the Company's industry-leading position by adding capability for AAR to expand into the wide-body market."

The facility can accommodate up to seven wide-body or 10 narrow-body aircraft, and construction is under way for an additional 118,000 square feet of space. AAR currently operates a parts logistics and distribution center at Chennault International in support of the U.S. Air Force's KC-10 program as part of a team led by Northrup Grumman

"Lake Charles is very proud to welcome AAR to Southwest Louisiana and to be a part of its global aerospace network," said Lake Charles Mayor Randy Roach. "This announcement is also great news for the men and women who have worked so hard in recent years to prove to the aviation industry that we can compete in the business of maintaining and repairing airplanes. Our commitment as a city is to build on that track record and do whatever we can to continue to support Chennault as a regional center of aviation excellence."

"Southwest Louisiana will see increased growth in aviation jobs with today's announcement," said President and CEO George Swift of the Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance. "As we work to diversify our economic base, aviation is a key component and we welcome this potential growth. We welcome AAR CORP. to our region."

"The AAR presence will expand the types and numbers of aircraft that will be worked on at the Chennault facility," said Executive Director Randy Robb of the Chennault International Airport Authority. "Since AAR is the largest aircraft Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul organization in the United States and the third-largest in the world, Chennault anticipates significant growth in both jobs and commerce at the site. AAR selected the Chennault location based upon the fact that the facilities meet their needs and because of the apparent teamwork they observed between the State of Louisiana, Calcasieu Parish, the City of Lake Charles and Chennault."

This expansion strengthens AAR's value proposition for its commercial airline customers by becoming the Company's 6th aircraft repair facility in its nationwide 1MRO Network, joining facilities in Indianapolis, Miami, Oklahoma City, Duluth, Minnesota, and Hot Springs, Arkansas. AAR has become the No. 1 provider of MRO services in North America and one of the top 3 in the world, according to industry rankings.

"We're very excited to begin working with the talented pool of aviation professionals and local suppliers in the region," Storch concluded.

 

The following is a news release from LED regarding the jobs that will be created:

LAKE CHARLES, La. — Today, Gov. Bobby Jindal and AAR Corp. Chairman and CEO David Storch announced the company will establish a 750-job aircraft Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) operation at Chennault International Airport in Lake Charles. The aviation contractor will retain approximately 250 former employees of a predecessor, Aeroframe Services, while creating 500 new direct jobs with an average salary of more than $46,600 a year, plus benefits. LED estimates the project will result in an additional 526 new indirect jobs in the area, for a total of more than 1,000 new jobs.

Based in the Chicago area, AAR is a global provider of products and services to commercial airlines and is also ranked among the Top 100 defense contractors in the world. The company's aircraft MRO business is the largest independent business of its kind in the United States.

The company will occupy approximately 520,000 square feet of MRO service and administrative space, plus another 118,000 square feet in Hangar H, a new high-bay, wide-body aviation hangar currently under construction at the airport. Louisiana committed $17.5 million toward construction of the $21.5 million Hangar H. The new hangar made Chennault a particularly attractive site for AAR's major expansion into Louisiana.

Gov. Jindal said, "Today is a great day for Calcasieu Parish and our entire state. Chennault continues to be one of the biggest economic drivers in Southwest Louisiana and our entire state. In addition to a world-class workforce and an outstanding business climate, Louisiana offers extraordinary sites like Chennault International Airport that make our state a leader in logistics and infrastructure. All of these resources contribute to Louisiana's economic momentum, and AAR is one of many companies that have taken notice as they continue to invest here, creating more great opportunities for our people."

"We appreciate the tremendous support from the Governor, the State, the Chennault International Airport Authority, local officials and the Louisiana Economic Development team in making this world-class facility available," Storch said. "We look forward to meeting and engaging the talented pool of aviation professionals from the area and helping to extend Lake Charles' position as an aviation center of excellence for Louisiana. The Lake Charles facility builds upon AAR's position as the top provider of aircraft maintenance services in North America, adding capacity while enabling the company to expand its capabilities, bring our industry-leading value proposition to more customers, and create jobs."

AAR is a leading provider of products and services for the aerospace, government and defense industries. Headquartered near O'Hare International Airport, AAR employs approximately 7,000 people at more than 60 locations in 17 countries. The company provides aviation services for large commercial airlines, including American, Delta, United and Southwest Airlines; cargo carriers, such as DHL, UPS and FedEx; and governments and militaries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, Turkey and others.

"The AAR presence will expand the types and numbers of aircraft that will be worked at the Chennault facility," said Executive Director Randy Robb of the Chennault International Airport Authority. "Since AAR is the largest aircraft Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul organization in the United States and the third-largest in the world, Chennault anticipates significant growth in both jobs and commerce at the site. AAR selected the Chennault location based upon the fact that the facilities met their needs and because of the apparent teamwork they observed between the State of Louisiana, Calcasieu Parish, the City of Lake Charles and Chennault."

The state provided a competitive incentive package to secure the company's investment in Lake Charles, including the services of LED FastStart® – recently ranked the best workforce development program in the nation for the fourth year in a row by Business Facilities magazine – as well as a performance-based grant of $2.0 million to reimburse capital investments in tooling and other equipment at Chennault needed to support AAR Corp.'s expanded operation. Additionally, AAR is expected to utilize the state's Quality Jobs and Industrial Tax Exemption programs.

The State of Louisiana also will partner with SOWELA to establish a national Aircraft MRO Center of Excellence there, which will support the training of employees and create a pipeline of talent for AAR and other aviation service providers in the region, such as Northrop Grumman. The State will provide $3.7 million in funding for enhancements to the curriculum in structures, systems and avionics; replacement and expansion of technical training equipment needed for these programs; accelerated hiring of national-caliber talent to provide leadership and training expertise for the program; and updated aerospace labs for students to practice and qualify for certification and jobs through hands-on lab work. Most of the funds will be utilized for basic instructional equipment (e.g., tools, tables, audio-visual technology, instructional materials) and advanced equipment (specialized training equipment for avionics, structures, and systems).

"Lake Charles is very proud to welcome AAR to Southwest Louisiana and to be a part of its global aerospace network," said Lake Charles Mayor Randy Roach. "This announcement is also great news for the men and women who have worked so hard in recent years to prove to the aviation industry that we can compete in the business of maintaining and repairing airplanes. Our commitment as a city is to build on that track record and do whatever we can to continue to support Chennault as a regional center of aviation excellence." 

"SWLA will see increased growth in aviation jobs with today's announcement," said President and CEO George Swift of the Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance. "As we work to diversify our economic base, aviation is a key component and we welcome this potential growth. We welcome AAR Corp. to our region."

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