Aeroframe's lease terminated, new company moving in

By By Lance Traweek / American Press

Aeroframe’s lease with Chennault International Airport has been terminated and will be turned over to Illinois-based AAR Corp.

— a new partnership that will reportedly create 500 jobs.

The company will support a 750-job aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul operation. The Louisiana Economic Development

Department estimates AAR will create 526 indirect jobs.

AAR will retain 250 employees from Aeroframe. AAR Chairman and CEO David Storch said he could not comment on whether each

employee would be retained from Aeroframe, but that an AAR job fair will be held next week.

Chennault Executive Director Randy Robb expects for 95 percent of Aeroframe’s employees to be retained. Robb said that “one

day these employees will be working for Aeroframe, and the next day they will be working for AAR.”

Gov. Bobby Jindal led the news conference Friday at Chennault, along with company executives and elected officials.

“This is great news for Lake Charles, Southwest Louisiana and the entire state,” Jindal said at the news conference. “Chennault

is a great example of the reutilization of this space for the benefit of the entire community.”

Robb said it was “one of the biggest things to ever happen to Chennault.”

Jindal said discussions between LED and

Chennault began in July — talks that “happened very quickly.” The lease


was requested by Aeroframe, which had been at Chennault since

2005. Roger Porter, former CEO of Aeroframe, will be a “member

of the AAR corporate structure,” Robb said.

“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,” reads a news release issued by Jindal’s office.

“The company’s aircraft MRO business is the largest independent business of its kind in the United States.”

AAR’s workforce, spread over 17 countries, numbers about 7,000. The company will move into 520,000 or so square feet of service

and administrative space and use 118,000 square feet of Hangar H when the structure is completed.

The state offered AAR an incentive package that included a $2 million performance-based grant.

In addition, the state will work with

Sowela Technical Community College to train workers and funnel future

employees to AAR

and other aviation companies. The state will give the school $3.7

million. That comes on the heels of a $20 million investment

from the state for a new training center at Sowela.

“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,” Neil Aspinwall,

chancellor, said in a news release.

“We’re excited to be here,” Storch said

at the news conference. “The commitment to the educational process to

allow a new

stream of mechanics and engineers and people coming into the

workforce ... made it really attractive to us and we agreed to

relocate into these facilities. The possibilities of our company

are greatly expanding by having the opportunity to be here.”

George Swift, president and CEO of the Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance, said the spirit of cooperation made

Friday’s announcement possible.

“Sowela is getting ready to be transformed. So is Southwest Louisiana,” he said. “There are a lot of people who worked around

the clock to make this happen.”