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Midair USA to expand Rome operations at Griffiss

By Journal Staff

Date:

ROME — Over the past six years, Midair USA, Inc. has quietly and steadily grown at Griffiss Business and Technology Park in Rome.

The company, which occupies about 70,000 square feet at 592 Hangar Road, is currently in talks with Oneida County to double its space in the park — a move that would create 125 new jobs at the aircraft overhauler.

The company, which overhauls Boeing 747s for airlines to lease or purchase, moved to Rome from San Antonio, Texas in December 2005 and, with just six employees, began work on its first plane in Rome in May 2006.

Today, the company has just over 300 employees, uses about 90 contractors for various jobs, and is looking to hire at least 125 new employees as it moves forward with plans to double its hangar space at the business park, says Michael Davis, managing director of parent company Midair SA. The company’s current payroll is about $6.5 million annually, he says.

Midair already has approval from Oneida County to move into a second bay in the hangar, says William Moore, president of Midair USA. The company is just waiting now to see if the county will agree to its proposal for the county to clean up additional space in the building for Midair’s use and to install an elevator. In exchange, Moore says, the company will make investments in the facility that will make the building more usable and marketable to others if Midair ever moves out. Midair also asked the county to add a second five-year renewal term to its lease, which currently consists of a five years with one five-year renewal option.

Midair will invest at least $1 million to build a tail enclosure for the bay so that it can fully enclose the planes while working on them, according to Federal Aviation Administration requirements. The company already spent about $2 million building a tail enclosure for the hangar bay it currently occupies, Moore says.

In addition, Midair plans to build mezzanine levels in the corners of the hangars to help utilize wasted space, Moore says. The company only uses the full height of the space in the center where it works on the planes, leaving plenty of room the company could use for storage if it built a second level, he says.

While he’s hopeful Oneida County will agree to the company’s additional proposals, Moore says Midair will move into the new hangar space in June no matter what. The company is simply out of room and needs the space, he says.

Midair runs three shifts seven days a week and still needs more employees to meet current demand, he says.

The only problem, Davis says, is finding those employees. “There is a shortage of skilled labor,” he says. About 20 percent of Midair’s work force comes from Mohawk Valley Community College’s airframe and powerplant technology certificate program, Moore says. The company needs a mix of workers with that airframe training along with mechanics, engineers, and even trade workers like sewers, he says. The company is willing and able to train employees, he adds.

Midair does all the work on the planes to re-outfit them for whichever airline will use them next, Moore says. Work includes painting it in the new airline’s colors, refurbishing the interior to not only match the airline’s “look” but also to whatever seating configuration it desires, and generally sprucing up the plane while making sure it is in mechanically sound shape.

Parent company Midair S.A. (www.midairsa.com) actually owns the planes, which it leases or sells to the airlines. About 85 percent of commercial aircraft are leased, Davis says. Right now the company’s primary customer is Transaero Airlines, Russia’s largest private airline.

Midair’s revenue has jumped in the last two years, Davis says. For the fiscal year ending in February 2010, the company reported 

$3 million in revenue. That grew to $11.6 million in 2011 and $40 million in 2012. The lack of space is the only factor limiting further growth right now, he says.

“Once we get over the space limitation, we could go out and do a thing called selling,” he says. Midair currently does not have a dedicated sales force. Most customers contact the company directly, he says.

Expanding the space in Rome will allow Midair to handle more business and hopefully pick up some clients in the United States, he says.

Headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, Midair specializes in aircraft trading and leasing, aircraft engineering and maintenance, aircraft re-marketing services, and asset management for financial institutions.

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