Ron Mathieu on What's Next at Clinton National After Hawker Beechcraft

Despite the Chapter 11 bankruptcy of Hawker Beechcraft, the company continues to pay on its nearly $600,000-a-year lease with Clinton National Airport, said the airport’s executive director, Ron Mathieu.

The company, now known as just Beechcraft, emerged from Chapter 11 in February. It continues to lease 247,500 SF at the airport for $587,626.05 per year in an agreement that originally was to end in 2037. Mathieu said the airport had agreed to Beechcraft’s request to alter the lease deal to allow either side to terminate the agreement with notice of at least 90 days.

The company had manufactured jets and pistons, but as Beechcraft it has shed itself of the jet business, Mathieu said, and the company’s airport location was home to a jet finishing facility.

Beechcraft, which maintains a small staff at the airport, is seeking a buyer for its assets there, and Mathieu is hopeful one will be found.

“They clearly believe that they have the ability to bring on another company that will take over that operation, and we’re encouraging them to do that,” he said.

If Beechcraft can’t find a buyer, then at some point the airport will move to market the facility, which Mathieu called “top-notch.” The land and some of the facilities belong to the airport, and if Beechcraft decamped without finding a buyer, the airport would retain improvements like a jet-painting hangar made at the site by Hawker Beechcraft.

The Little Rock plant employed about 900 in October 2008, which was near its peak. Mostly, Mathieu said, he’s hoping that whoever buys the assets will bring back some of those jobs.