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Republic Airport’s new manager takes reins, awaits lease

An aerial view of Republic Airport in East

An aerial view of Republic Airport in East Farmingdale is shown on May 2, 2010. Photo Credit: Kevin P Coughlin

Republic Airport’s new operator, AvPORTS, has assumed management of the state-owned general aviation airport in East Farmingdale as part of a long-term lease agreement expected to last 40 years.

The company took over at Republic on April 1, but the contract between AvPORTS and the state is still being finalized and is expected to be signed by the end of April, officials said. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced in January that the Virginia-based company won a bid to provide operations, maintenance and airport development services at Republic, the third busiest airport in the state by number of flights. AvPORTS, which had previously been a subcontractor at Republic, also manages upstate Stewart International, Westchester County, Teterboro and Atlantic City International airports, among others.

Robert Yturraspe, who has worked at the airport for six years, was introduced as its new manager at a meeting of the Republic Airport Commission Tuesday night. Airport officials at the meeting said operations and airport revenues — including landing fees, fuel fees and license fees — have grown, despite the fact that there are currently fewer airplanes based at Republic.

“Everything is going well; it seems like there is a lot of activity even though there are fewer based aircraft than in previous years. It seems like there is a lot more activity, so it’s a good thing for the airport,” Yturraspe said after the meeting, where it was announced that airport management had changed hands.

Longtime airport manager Shelley LaRose-Arken was one of two staffers to depart when AvPORTS became Republic’s new operator, said commission chairman Frank Nocerino.

AvPORTS is taking the reins at a busy time: State agency Empire State Development is seeking to transform 41.5 acres on five unused parcels at the airport for aviation or other compatible uses, and development proposals are due Friday. Fixed-base operator Sheltair Aviation is preparing to break ground on a $55 million project to design and build as much as 210,000 square feet of hangar space to accommodate large corporate jets at the airport.

Charter company Northeastern Aviation is applying with the state Department of Transportation to become the airport’s fourth fixed-base operator. And as of last fall, longtime tenant and charter company Talon Air was issued FBO status at Republic, making it the third company that’s permitted to sell fuel to airplanes and provide hangaring, tie-down and other services.

And after state lawmakers last fall approved tax exemptions for sales and use of general aviation aircraft, requests for hangar space at the airport have surged, several people have said.

“I think you are going to see — we already have a lot of new corporate aircraft, and maybe we have fewer privately-owned single-engine prop [planes], but the corporate aircraft numbers I believe will start to increase, especially with those new hangars they’re building,” Yturraspe said Tuesday.

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