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County buying airport fuel station

April 22, 2002|BY ANDREW SCHOTZ

andrews@herald-mail.com

Washington County has agreed to buy the fuel station at Hagerstown Regional Airport for $790,000.

Aero-Smith Inc., which operates the station, will leave the airport by June 30, County Administrator Rodney Shoop said.

As part of the deal, the county will obtain a hangar, office space and rights to an apron where pilots can park airplanes, Shoop said.

"We have been weighing the idea of the airport owning the fuel depot that's here," Airport Manager Carolyn Motz said. "Most airports in Maryland own their own, large and small."

Even without owning the fuel operation, the airport assumed liability for it because it's on county land, she said.

Aero-Smith has been running the fixed-base operation at the airport for nine years. At a fixed-based operation, pilots can buy fuel and other supplies or stop to eat or rest.

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Motz said the 6,000-square-foot hangar has a kitchenette, microwave oven, refrigerator and easy chairs that are good for naps.

About 2,000 square feet of office space is next to the hangar.

The apron measures 310 feet by 600 feet, Motz said.

The fuel station has two above-ground 15,000-gallon tanks. One is for Jet A fuel, the other for 100-octane low lead fuel.

Motz said trucks carry fuel from the tanks to the airplanes.

The county has not decided who will manage the fixed-base operation.

Shoop said Motz will decide if it is to go out for bid. For a "seamless transition," a new manager must be in place by June 30, he said.

The county will not hire any new employees because of the purchase, Shoop said.

Aero-Smith has 15 employees at the airport, according to the Hagerstown-Washington County Economic Development Commission's 2002 Business & Industry Directory.

Shoop said he isn't sure what will happen to those employees.

Eagle Air Inc., a flight school that used some of the office space being transferred, is expected to stay at the airport, he said.

Aero-Smith also runs the fixed-base operation at Eastern West Virginia Regional Airport near Martinsburg, W.Va., and offers a flight training program and charter flights.

The company declined to comment on the deal.

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