Midair USA, one of two large aircraft maintenance operations at Griffiss International Airport, owes nearly $450,000 in unpaid rent and other charges. The company’s attorney says the firm intends to pay up.
The county says no monthly payments for the three hangars leased at the county airport by the company have been received in some time despite efforts to contact the firm about the situation. A letter was sent a week ago to the company’s lawyer seeking payment.
“Please be advised that Midair USA, Inc. is in violation of the terms of its lease agreements with the County of Oneida for failure to pay rent,” states the letter from County Attorney Peter M. Rayhill to Midair attorney Richard C. Engel. “The amount currently due and owing under the leases is $449,192.29.”
While the letter is “a demand for immediate payment of amounts due and owing,” it neither lists any steps that might be taken if there is no response nor contains a deadlline for a reply.
Engel said Midair has a long-term presence at Griffiss and the company expects and hopes to remain at the airport. The company had about 210 employees several months ago.
“We are going to work with the County of Oneida to make all the lease payments and continue to operate out of Griffiss,” he said.
When asked the unpaid rent, he said there had been a “short-term pause in business” resulting from the Russian economy’s difficulties. “It is temporary,” he added.
Since landing at Griffiss about 10 years ago, Midair’s exclusive customer was Russia’s Transaero Airlines until recently. Earlier this year the company announced a plane maintenance agreement with Aircastle Advisor, LLC.
“We expect a large uptick in business in the coming weeks,” Engel said.
The basic monthly rent for the three hangars, not counting other fees, is $52,835, according to the county comptroller’s office.
Besides the Rome operation, Midair has facilities in Florida. Currently, a hangar large enough to accommodate a Boeing 747, plus back shop space and offices, is under construction in Melbourne. Completion is expected later this year.
“We’re more than willing to work with them,” said County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr. Monday. He then described Midair as an “important asset to the airport.”
Rayhill too hopes the unpaid rent issue can be resolved to both parties’ satisfaction.
“We have a record of payments and employment,” he said. He said the county does not want to jeopardize Midair’s presence at Griffiss, but adds the county needs to hear from the company regarding the unpaid rent.
Company President William Moore could not be reached.
Midair is an affiliate of Switzerland-based Midair SA.
Large aircraft maintenance has been a major focus of the county’s effort to make Griffiss an economic hub since the airport was moved from Whitestown to Rome in 2007. Midair and another aircraft maintenance and repair company, Premier Aviation Overhaul Center, together account for more than 300 jobs.
The owed money is another bump in the relationship between the county and Midair that has had its ups and downs over the years. Midair has said periodically it wanted to stay at Griffiss and expand operations and create new jobs, but maintained the county was not making it easy. The county insisted it wanted to work with Midair, but there were processes and procedures that had to be followed. The county also said there were space limitations that could not be addressed until new construction occurred.
A building project that is now in its infancy will free up space that Midair was interested in going back several years.