Raleigh-Durham International Airport is looking for a developer to create a campus of hangars for corporate jets on about 48 acres at the north end of the airport.
The campus would provide a chance for companies or other organizations to lease their own hangars at RDU; other than shipping companies, Cary software firm SAS Institute is the only company with a private hangar at RDU now. Other private planes share space in a general aviation complex managed by two companies, Signature Flight Support and TAC Air.
The airport has heard from other large companies like SAS that want private spaces where they can keep their planes, said Kristie VanAuken, RDU’s vice president for communications and community affairs. Companies such as Apple and Amazon, both of which are considering establishing large operations in the Triangle, would be the kind of firms expected to want a private place to park their jets.
“We’ve had lots of inquiries,” VanAuken said, without naming names.
General aviation traffic at RDU most recently peaked in 2006, with 59,112 flights. The recession cut the number of flights to 40,273 in 2010, but general aviation has since rebounded to nearly 51,000 flights last year.
In its master plan for the next 25 years, RDU said it expects that flights by hobbyists and individuals will continue to languish, based on a decline in the number of new private pilot licenses. But the airport sees growing demand for private business travel.
The hangar campus would be built near the north end of the airport’s main runway, adjacent to the SAS hangar. The site was once set aside for a maintenance building for American Airlines, when RDU was a hub for the carrier, and is now partially covered with an asphalt parking lot that rental car companies use for storage.
RDU is seeking proposals from developers to create a “high-profile aeronautical-oriented development focused on high-end corporate hangar facilities.” It’s the first time the airport has sought an outside developer to plan, finance and build a project on airport property.
The chosen developer would lease the property from Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority, which would approve any development plan. The developer would have to build ramps and taxiways to Federal Aviation Administration standards capable of handling Boeing Business Jets, versions of the company’s airliners built for private customers.
The deadline for development proposals is Friday, and the Airport Authority expects to pick the winner by Aug. 16.