Perryville's Sabreliner operation plans to expand

Friday, April 24, 2009

Sabreliner Corporation is looking to expand its operation based at the Perryville Municipal Airport, bringing a handful of additional jobs to the area.

Currently, Sabreliner has a long-term lease with the city of Perryville, Mo., for a 210,000-square-foot space for their operations where they conduct aircraft refurbishment and repairs on both commercial and military machines, said Ron Herman, senior vice-president of operations for Sabreliner.

That lease is good through 2030, but the lease of another space, a 12,000-square-foot hangar that is a fixed-base operation, expires in four years, Herman said.

Running the lease on the smaller space concurrently would allow Sabreliner to make some improvements that would help them increase capacity, Herman said.

"We have a facility issue right now; we're overcrowded," Herman said Tuesday at a Perryville Board of Aldermen meeting.

The operation supports a fleet of about 300 aircraft, and hangars generally house about 25 planes, but they are up to about 30 to 40 these days, Herman said.

"Our hangars are packed," he said.

Sabreliner intends to dump about $1 million in the operation this year, and has added about 78 employees to it, Herman said.

Adding the hangar space and expanding the operation would create 20 to 25 new jobs at the Perryville airport, Herman said.

"I want to keep the business here but I must have additional space," he said.

"The bigger companies, they look at our capacity and say, 'I need more room."'

In addition to the extra space, improvements to computer and phone systems are needed, Herman said.

In September, the first U.S. Army Blackhawk aircraft will arrive at Sabreliner off the assembly line.

Perryville Ward 3 Alderman Gary Schumer said Tuesday he'd like to see a study on the issue completed as quickly as possible.

"We're very proud of our relationship with Sabreliner," Perryville Mayor Debbie Gahan said.

Gahan said the city was prepared to work with the St. Louis-based corperation in mapping out a plan to address the need for additional space.

"Step by step, we'll work with you," Gahan said.

In 1977, final assembly of Sabreliner aircraft was moved from Los Angeles to the Perryville facility, according to the company's website.

Sabreliner employs about 230 people at the Perryville facility, Herman said.

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