Auburn Mulls Taking Over Lufthansa Hangar

June 17--AUBURN -- Operations at the Auburn-Lewiston Municipal Airport could save about $49,000 per year by taking over the lease for the hangar housing Lufthansa Technion's Constellation project, councilors were told Monday.

City Councilors were briefed on a plan to purchase the hangar from Nobility, LLC, which would pay off the contract, which has 14 years left on it.

City Manager Clinton Deschene said councilors will put the matter on their July 7 agenda.

Lewiston city councilors will discuss the matter Tuesday night.

The airport leases the hangar housing Lufthansa's project from Nobility, LLC, paying $249,750 per year through 2028. The airport turns around and subleases the hangar to the Lufthansa Technik group.

When the lease ends, the airport has the right to purchase the hangar for $2 million.

Deschene said he expects the Lufthansa group to continue working in Auburn for the foreseeable future. The company has a contract with the airport through next year.

"We do know they will be there to get this current project done," Deschene said. "We know they are happy there, so my goal is to see, perhaps over the next few years, if the airport could obtain a longer-term agreement from Lufthansa."

The circa-World War II Lockheed Super Constellations were fixtures at the Auburn airport until December 2007, when Germany purchased them.

The local Lufthansa group has been working to rebuild the Constellation in the hanger since 2008.

Work on the $3 million hangar began right away and Lufthansa and the airport cut the ribbon on the 50,000-square-foot hangar in August 2008.

The airport board is recommending the cities split the $2.2 million cost to buy the hangar now, saving an estimated $3.5 million in lease costs. The airport would pay about $201,000 per year to the cities to repay the loan.

"The backside of this is that even if (Lufthansa is) not there and the building is vacant, the airport is still responsible for the lease costs and for taxes and utilities," Deschene said.

staylor@sunjournal.com

Copyright 2014 - Sun Journal, Lewiston, Maine

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