KINGMAN - Aero-Flite is leaving Kingman Airport and Industrial Park and moving its corporate headquarters and tanker fleet to Spokane, Wash., company owner Matt Zionek said Tuesday.
There were a number of factors that went into the decision, he told the Daily Miner before boarding a flight for Washington.
The company has outgrown its facilities at Kingman Airport and expanded its fleet with new airplanes. It needed a new base of operations that would support rapid growth.
"We would require a new facility, a new hangar, a new ramp. We didn't see it happening (at Kingman Airport)," Zionek said. "It's been a good run and now it's time to move on."
Bob Riley, director of economic development for Kingman Airport Authority, said he hasn't heard anything about what Aero-Flite plans to do with its six planes that are stationed in Kingman.
"We have had no official notice that the planes are moving," Riley said Tuesday. "We don't know what's going to happen with the planes."
Aero-Flite owns a 36,000-square-foot hangar and leases the land at Kingman Airport. The company employs 40 to 50 people, depending on the time of year, Zionek said. The bulk of the workforce is moving to Spokane, he noted.
Aero-Flite based its tanker aircraft at Moses Lake in eastern Washington this summer to support firefighting efforts in the Carlton Complex fire. The tankers set a record for pumping 1.9 million of gallons of retardant in a season, shattering the previous record of 1.4 million that stood since 2001, according to FireAviation.com.
After seeing tremendous growth in 2013, Zionek said he had to look for a new home.
Aero-Flite will have a 50,000-square-foot hangar and 15 acres of concrete ramp for parking aircraft at its Spokane facility.
By next spring, the company is hoping to have 65 employees working out of a hangar at Spokane International Airport, as well as a fleet of six to 10 aircraft.
Some of the older aircraft will be stored at the Kingman hangar "for the foreseeable future," Zionek said.
Aero-Flite, based in Kingman since 1987, is the largest private operator of water scooping aircraft in North America.
With a fleet of Avro RJ 85 air tankers, the company specializes in providing rapid, reliable aerial fire suppression service in the United States and Canada.