Port updates pilots on hangar damage
During a crowded meeting Monday, Port of Skagit leadership updated pilots on the status of repairs to hangars damaged in severe weather Jan. 6.
Pilots in attendance applauded the port commissioners’ decision to extend the deadline to remove airplanes and equipment from the five damaged hangar buildings at Skagit Regional Airport to April 15 from Feb. 28.
“We’re trying to be responsive to our customers,” said Commissioner Steven Omdal, adding that the decision was made after pilots complained of the tight deadline at a meeting earlier in the month.
Meanwhile, Executive Director Patsy Martin said the port is exploring ways to allow tenants limited access to the less-damaged hangars.
Whether the hangars are repaired or replaced will come down to the insurance payout, said Brad Furlong, general counsel for the port. He said he expects more details in the coming weeks.
“I wish I could say ‘this is how it’s going to turn out,’ but it’s a complicated issue,” he said.
The storm, which happened Jan. 6, caused significant damage to one 12-hangar building and more light-to-moderate damage to the other four such structures at the airport, which is operated by the Port of Skagit.
Erik Golub, one of the tenants, thanked the commissioners for the deadline extension, calling it a “stay of execution.”
However, he said if the port ends up being unable to accommodate its tenants any longer, tenants will have trouble finding a new space.
He said he and his girlfriend got waiting lists from every private and public airport between Lynden and Pierce County and discovered that, together, 360 pilots are seeking a hangar in the region.
“Right now, there’s not a single hangar available,” Golub said.
Other tenants, including Bill Babcock, questioned the port’s decision to block entry to buildings D and E, which suffered minor damage.
One speaker asked the commissioners to address a rumor that the port was planning to reduce its investment in amateur aviation as a result of the damage.
“That’s still the heartbeat of the port,” said Commissioner Bill Shuler. “We’d go down in flames if the port ever did away with that.”
Scott Peterson, director of business development and real estate, said the port is considering working with a private developer to build four new 10-hangar buildings elsewhere on airport property.
While tenants pay about $200-250 a month for their hangars, they may have to pay $400-600 in newer buildings.
“We can’t do anything until we get the numbers together,” he said.