Aviation company gets approval to lease more space at airport

Published 8:52 pm Monday, March 8, 2021

The owner of ARNE Freefall Solutions and Skydive Suffolk has received city approval to lease more space at the Suffolk Executive Airport for the growing business.

City Council unanimously approved a trio of agreements authorizing interim City Manager Al Moor to enter into a lease agreement with ARNE for Box Hangar 7, as well as enter into another lease agreement to allow Skydive Suffolk Training Center to use Box Hangar 9 and a ground lease agreement for 1.75 acres near that box hangar, which will cost ARNE and Skydive Suffolk $54,000 per year.

Box Hangar 7 is about 11,600 square feet — inclusive of about 10,000 square feet of hangar space and about 1,600 square feet of office space for $2,000 per month. ARNE will also get exclusive use of the paved ramp near the box hangar along with the five paved parking spaces on the east side of the building.

The leases are for three years and can be renewed for two additional one-year terms.

Box Hangar 9 is about 8,000 square feet — about 6,400 square feet of hangar space and another 1,600 square feet of office space, along with exclusive use of the paved ramp near the box hangar, the taxiway leading from the ramp to taxiway ‘A’ and the paved parking lot next to the building. Skydive Suffolk will pay $2,300 per month for that.

The lease for Box Hangar 9 is for one year, and can be renewed for four additional one-year terms.

The box hangar can be used for aircraft storage, maintenance and repair, and ARNE and Skydive Suffolk will have non-exclusive use of all public airport facilities.

Skydive Suffolk is also leasing about 1.75 acres of space just east of Box Hangar 9 at a cost of $200 per month.

Acting Deputy City Manager Kevin Hughes said the leasing of the 1.75 acres would allow Skydive Suffolk to put up some temporary structures there to help with training, parachute packing and related operations to Skydive Suffolk.

Jon Babineau, the attorney for ARNE and Skydive Suffolk, said during a March 3 public hearing that Laura Manthey, who owns ARNE Aviation, ARNE Freefall Solutions and Skydive Suffolk, is heavily invested in her business at the airport.

“She has a very significant operation, not only community skydiving, but also brings in the military to the airport and into the city of Suffolk, helps with the concessions out there, also has a lot of takeoffs and landings, which equal to FAA dollars that come to the city,” Babineau said. “So there are a lot of benefits other than the lease that come by virtue of the operation.

“There are very few operators in the United States, quite frankly, that are able to provide the kind of training that ARNE Aviation (provides) to the military.”

The training is primarily provided to the Navy, but Army Special Forces, the Air Force and others train there also. ARNE Aviation, which began in 2015 along with ARNE Freefall Solutions, started as a company providing aircraft for specialized military training, and, since 2019, it has provided aircraft and rigging support to the Navy. It has working relationships with five other airports and several facilities that can support military freefall and static line operations.

“It allows our, as we dub them, our warfighters, to be able to train in a situation where it is a very controlled environment for them and they’re not able to replicate it within the military communities, surprisingly enough. This is a great, if you will, operation. It’s been great for the city of Suffolk.”

Councilman Roger Fawcett said ARNE “enhances our airport and the military and added that, “I think it is a benefit to the city of Suffolk to have it here.”