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Carlisle Airport sale hasn’t taken off after 16 years

The Carlisle Airport still is for sale after 16 years. But the owners believe they might be able to land a public buyer this year, or in 2015. The ownership, a group of seven investors, are looking to sell the 51-year-old airfield to a public authority similar to the Susquehanna Area Regional Airport Authority, which owns Harrisburg International Airport in Middletown. Unlike private ownership, a public entity has access to Federal Aviation Administration funding, and other government money, for improvements, which are sorely needed at the small airport on Petersburg Road in South Middleton Township.This isn’t the first time the owners are attempting to sell the airport to a public authority.The now-defunct Cumberland County Transportation Authority rejected an offer to purchase it in 1998, a year after the current owners purchased it, because the authority was unable to land an FAA grant it would use to buy the airport. The former chairman of SARAA said it had considered buying the airfield in 2006, but nothing came of those talks, either. The airport’s owners are working with the Cumberland Area Economic Development Corp. to search for public suitors. And while CAEDC and the owners say the sale process is in its infancy, it could happen quickly, because the two have tossed the public ownership idea around for several years.

The FAA would require an appraisal, which has yet to occur, before the investors can set an asking price. But the airport could be under new ownership before the end of this year, or in 2015, said Jim Kingsborough, one of the airport owners. He said he doesn’t believe investing hundreds of thousands of dollars, or more, on improvements would provide a significant return. The airport needs extra hangars, a taxiway and more, to be positioned for the future, Kingsborough said. And selling it to a public entity would help ensure its longevity, because another private owner would be in the same position he and the other owners are in, he said. “We’ve owned the airport now for close to 20 years. The time is going to come when we have to improve it and grow it, or close it down,” Kingsborough said. A task force issued a report in 2011, which highlighted the airport’s importance to Cumberland County’s economic future. And while CAEDC’s role in the airport’s future still is being defined, the economic development group is not considering ownership, said Jonathan Bowser, CAEDC CEO. “We need to find an eligible sponsor for the airport…such as an authority,” he said. “The motivating factor behind any transfer to a public entity, amongst others, is funding opportunities.”

The reason CAEDC is facilitating the process comes down to the airport’s role in attracting money to the region, Bowser said. “The ability to attract corporations and visitors to the area relies heavily on air travel and the Carlisle Airport, along with Harrisburg International Airport,” he said, adding that both “play an essential role in our ability to bring businesses and visitors to Cumberland Valley.”


See full Pennlive article here.

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