North Texas Regional Airport — Perrin Field is looking for a new tenant after losing one of its largest operators earlier this year.
The Grayson County Regional Mobility Authority took action out of an executive session Monday morning to allow the leasing committee to negotiate with a potential tenant for the former US Aviation facilities.
US Aviation, which operated a flight academy out of NTRA for nearly eight years, announced earlier this year that it would be leaving NTRA and consolidating operations in Denton.
“Even since the meeting ended, I’ve gotten two calls today about it,” NTRA Airport Manager Mike Livezey said Monday afternoon.
US Aviation’s announcement comes amid changes to the international demand for pilots. Traditionally, the NTRA academy was focused primarily on training pilots coming from China and east Asia. However, recent tensions between the countries and the COVID-19 pandemic led to a decrease in incoming pilots, Livezey said last month.
In response to the changes in demand, US Aviation officials in March said the company planned to focus more of its efforts on domestic flight training.
Livezey said that US Aviation had until May 31 to leave its two buildings at NTRA.
“I would say they are 99.9 percent complete,” he said. “They had everything out by Sunday the 31st, aside from the clean up.”
Some items, have been put in storage at NTRA for the next two months while the flight academy works to consolidate into its facilities in Denton.
”We had a vacant hangar — really it was more a vacant storage space — that we let them utilize,“ Livezey said. ”If they don’t have everything out of there in two months, we will start to charge a monthly fee.“
Despite the loss, Livezey said he expects to see the airport retain about 10 to 20 percent of the operations that were done at NTRA as the Denton site does not have space for some of the training operations.
“In the training world, they are something of a super training,” Livezey said. “They would be doing 7,000 to 8,000 training hours a month. Most flight schools do about 7,000 to 8,000 training hours a year.”
Since the departure, Livezey said he has seen significant interest in the academy’s hangar space. In May, he said he was nearing completion of a deal that would bring a maintenance provider and charter operator to NTRA. However, this deal has since fallen through, as the operator was unable to get key personnel to commit tot he drive to NTRA each day.
“I have shown that to probably six or seven different groups. There are some that still have interest in it. There were a couple that did have interest in it, but it wasn’t a good fit for the airport.”
Livezey said the primary interest for building are tenants who would use it as a maintenance site or for aircraft storage.
“What we’ve found is that there are a lot of people who would like part of it, but to take the whole thing is a completely different commitment financially,” he said.
However, the harder sell will me the flight academy’s classroom and training building, which is a significantly more niche property.
“That’s going to be a little more difficult to find a user for because you can’t fit a plane in it,” he said. “There is a much smaller segment of our industry that can make use of that without direct access to taxiways.”
Michael Hutchins is the local government reporter for the Herald Democrat. He can be reached at email@example.com.