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6:07 PM Mon, Jan. 21st

Market conditions holding back Kingman Airport and Industrial Park, director says

The “Y” at the Kingman Airport and Industrial Park, where trains come off the main line of the Burlington Northern Sante Fe Railway.

Photo by Travis Rains.

The “Y” at the Kingman Airport and Industrial Park, where trains come off the main line of the Burlington Northern Sante Fe Railway.

There’s more going on at the Kingman Airport and Industrial Park than meets the eye, as evidenced by the park’s 3-percent vacancy rate, said Robert Riley, director of economic development at Kingman Airport Authority.

The two standouts of the some 4,000 acres managed by Kingman Airport Authority for the City of Kingman are the airport and the industrial park.

The airport was originally designed and operated as a World War II Army Air Force gunnery range and training field. Planes would strafe targets that were set up on the ground, and soldiers would sit in the back of a moving pickup truck using .50 caliber machine guns to shoot at targets pulled along the railroad tracks.

Today, the airport has two active runways; the primary runway is just under 7,000 feet in length and 150-feet wide, and the secondary runway is also just under 7,000 feet in length but only 75-feet wide. The airport is rated for 737-type aircraft because of the load-bearing capacity of the runways, not due to their dimensions.

There are approximately 150 general aviation operators, or individual aircraft owners, at the airport and 250 aircraft in storage.

“We go out and count each aircraft every month,” Riley said. “We’ve got a list of all the airplanes, and if they come and go then they get billed accordingly.”

When looking at the planes in storage, it’s noticeable that a number are without engines. Riley explained that it’s because nobody owns commercial airplanes these days.

“They’re all through conglomerates and handled through leasing companies,” Riley continued. “Planes come in for storage and the owners of the different parts don’t get full-lease value, they get storage-lease value. First to go are the engines, they’re in high demand.”

Riley said the airport authority is “very active” in the planning and development of the area. There are areas of land, about 1,500 acres, which have not been released from the World War II Army Surplus Property Act, and the authority is working with the federal government to get it released. The environmental assessment was submitted nine years ago, but is still being reviewed by environmental representatives employed by the government.

However, Riley noted that the authority has made plans for if and when the land is released. The majority of it will go toward additional industrial development including heavy manufacturing and lighter-industry manufacturing and distribution.

The industrial park is the largest park outside of Maricopa County, and consists of 1,100 acres for industrial development purposes and just less than 4.5 million square feet of developed space.

“The net proceeds of all the land sales within the airport industrial park must be reinvested into the airport within five years of the date of the sale,” Riley said. “Those go into capital improvements or operation and maintenance.”

With more than 70 businesses housed at the park, and more in the works, approximately 2,000 people are employed at the park.

“American Woodmark is our largest employer, they’ve got over 650 people,” Riley said. “They manufacture kitchen cabinets and they’re turning out over 1,000 cabinets a day.”

Kingman Airline Services is the company that actually stores the aircraft. It has more than 120 employees occupying more than 100,000 square feet within multiple buildings at the park.

“They’re the ones that are maintaining these aircraft for the different owners. They’re maintaining all the paperwork,” Riley noted.

Brackett Aircraft manufactures air filters and tow bars for general aviation airplanes. There is a business that manufactures pipe fittings, one that manufactures septic tanks and another that manufactures netting and twine products. Numerous trucking companies, as well as FedEx Ground and UPS, have stations at the park. A few of the park’s businesses are even in competition with one another.

“One of the things you need to recognize is that Kingman Airport and Industrial Park is 350 miles from the Port of Los Angeles,” Riley said.

That distance is covered by a truck driver in a single day’s route.

“The population within a 350-mile radius of Kingman is over 33 million people, so our market is 33 million people,” he continued. “This park is not being sustained by Kingman, it’s being sustained by primarily Southern California, Phoenix and Tucson being the secondary market and Las Vegas being our tertiary market.”

Kingman was described by Riley as an ideal logistical location from which to operate an industrial park. The only reason he said it’s not growing quicker is because of market conditions.

“As the market picks up, we’ll pick up,” he said. “As the market decreases, we decrease.”