Savannah Airport awards bid for North Aviation work


March 10--The Savannah Airport Commission on Wednesday approved a $24 million contract with McLendon Enterprises Inc. for improvements to 280 acres north of the existing airfield, including an 88-acre tract leased to Gulfstream Aerospace.

McLendon, with headquarters in Vidalia, outbid McCarthy Improvement Co. of Davenport, Iowa, and Baker Infrastructure Group Inc. of Garden City for the work, which includes relocating Gulfstream Road, constructing a new taxiway while extending another and building a new airfield electrical vault.

Airport executive director Patrick Graham said he was pleased with the bids, which came in lower than expected.

"It was very close and competitive, with only $35,000 separating the top two bids," he said.

Total project costs, including design, mitigation, construction and construction service are projected to be $28.5 million, Graham said.

The contract is expected to go before Savannah City Council for final approval March 24.

Savannah-based Gulfstream in November announced a $500 million, seven-year expansion plan that's expected to result in 1,000 new jobs. As part of the expansion, the company will build new facilities in the northwest quadrant of Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport and renovate several existing facilities on the main campus off Gulfstream Road.

In addition to Gulfstream's need for an aviation manufacturing facility, the airport is responding to continued demand for maintenance, repair and overhaul facilities, as well as hangar space, Graham said.

"All the hangars and most of the hangar sites on the existing airfield are leased," Graham said.

"We are getting requests for more and larger hangar space -- 150,000 square feet and up. One hangar that size would take up almost four acres."

Business is picking up, Graham said, with jet fuel sales for general aviation up more than 22 percent last year.

The airport also plans to make additional sites available for lease to Gulfstream and others for the construction of additional general or corporate aviation maintenance, repair and overhaul facilities.

In other airport news, the commission:

--Voted to execute a standard operating agreement with Vision Airlines Inc., which will begin operations to Fort Walton Beach/Destin, Fla., on March 25. Vision will not be required to pay landing fees or common area charges for the first year of operation.

--Approved a $150,000 marketing campaign with Allegiant Air, which has been flying from Savannah to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., since November.

While Allegiant, which specializes in offering flights and travel packages to destination cities, considers Fort Lauderdale the destination, some 40 percent of its passengers so far are flying to Savannah as their destination, said airport spokeswoman Lori Lynah.

"We're hoping Allegiant will consider adding Savannah as a destination city, so we are aiming our campaign at the Fort Lauderdale market, concentrating nearly $100,000 in print and online ads there," she said.

The remaining funds will be spent in Savannah and outlying area markets.