The Delaware River and Bay Authority is looking for a tenant or a redevelopment prospect for the former Dassault jet refitting and maintenance base at Wilmington Airport (ILG).
The corporate jet and military aviation company reportedly moved operations to its massive location in Arkansas. It led to the loss of more than 100 jobs. The site had been able to hire some of the skilled workers from the former General Motors and Chrysler plants when both closed in 2009.
James Salmon, spokesman for the River and Bay Authority, operator of the airport, said Dassault and the authority are working to find a tenant for the site along DuPont Highway in New Castle. Dassault’s lease expires at the end of 2024.
Dassault acquired the site from Atlantic Aviation, a company founded by duPont family members who were aviation pioneers and investors. Atlantic operates nationwide with locations in Alaska and Hawaii The company still has fixed base operations at ILG.
Prior to Dassault’s departure, the company based in heavily unionized France, tangled with the United Auto Workers over wage and benefit concessions said to be needed to keep the site open. Their site in Little Rock has more than 1.2 million square feet and is used to do final work on newly purchased jets flown in from France. The company also refurbished existing jets, work that had been done in Delaware.
On the East Coast, Dassault has a center at Teterboro airport in New Jersey, just outside New York City.
The property includes an employee parking lot with 120 spaces, three hangars, and a fourth hangar that is equipped as an aircraft paint hanger. There is also an above-ground fuel farm with a total capacity of 55,000 gallons.
The airport has seen stepped up activity near the area of the former maintenance complex with the entry of Avelo Airlines at the nearby terminal. Avelo offers more than 20 arrivals and departures from the airport a week. The airport also has sees general and corporate aviation flights.
The airport is owned by New Castle County and managed by the River and Bay Authority.
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