HANCOCK COUNTY — On Christmas Eve, Thanksgiving and Easter, when tourists across the country idle in long lines and crowded concourses, travelers at Indianapolis Regional Airport flow in and out of the facility without delay.
The ability to offer that level of convenience, combined with the community’s growing presence of international companies, can be attributed to the facility’s growth in recent years, said Ryan Maxfield, general manager of Indy Jet, the private company overseeing operations at the airport, located at 3867 N. Aviation Way near county roads 400N and 600W.
Unlike Indianapolis International Airport, where customers can purchase tickets to flights on major commercial airliners, such as Delta Airlines, the local regional airport serves clientele who pay to rent and charter private flights.
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Since 2013, Indy Jet, which also offers aircraft maintenance and storage services, has added 14 positions, increasing its staff to 50 to keep up with increased demand for its services, from flight training to plane maintenance. In that time, the airport has also nearly tripled the number of jet aircraft based out of the facility from eight to 21, allowing it to serve a wider range of clients, Maxfield said.
Now, leaders from the company are planning to build an estimated $1.2 million hangar facility to maintain and repair aircraft, a move that will add between six and 10 positions paying between $60,000 and $100,000, he said. The majority of those positions would be reserved for mechanics, though there will likely be a need to hire additional pilots also, as the facility increases the number of planes that can be stored on its property.
And though the airport’s services cater to primarily to wealthy, executive-level clientele, the county as a whole benefits from the facility’s economic impact, said Skip Kuker, executive director of the Hancock Economic Development Council.
When courting business owners who are considering moving operations to Hancock County, the regional airport, which can support nonstop international flights, is often a selling point, Kuker said.
For manufacturing companies in particular, which depend on consistent production, the local airport provides access to a reliable shipping channel, allowing businesses to fly in critical supplies and parts as needed, as opposed to waiting for a freight shipment, he said.
And for business owners whose busy schedules dictate a need for efficient travel, the long lines and potential delays at busier airports, such as Indianapolis International, simply can’t compete, Maxfield said.
A flight to Nashville, Tennessee, Maxfield gave as an example, could take as little as 40 minutes, allowing local companies to conduct out-of-state business and make it home in time for dinner.
“To them, it’s not a luxury expense,” Maxfield said. “It’s a business tool that drives revenue and profit.”
If Indy Jet receives approval from the Indianapolis Airport Authority, the state organization that oversees operations at several airports around central Indiana, and the Federal Aviation Authority, construction on the new hangar should begin in the summer, Maxfield said.
Under that timeline, construction of the facility’s exterior would be complete in late fall, and equipment installation in the interior should wrap up by July 2017, he said.
The new hangar, which will measure approximately 20,000 square feet, will be used primarily for mechanical repairs and maintenance, Maxfield said.
Since 2013, Indy Jet, which offers flight chartering, aircraft maintenance and storage services, has added 14 positions, increasing its staff to 50. In that time, the facility has also nearly tripled the number of jet aircraft based out of the facility, from eight to 21.