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(Courtesy of the Jacksonville Business Journal) — A Cecil Airport tenant is expanding, with a new hangar in the works.

Monday morning, the Jacksonville Aviation Authority, by a 6-0 vote, approved a proposal to build a 39,000-square-foot hangar on 3.4 acres of property on the northwest side of the airport. The tenant will be ManTech Advanced Systems International Inc., a subsidiary of ManTech International Corp.

The authority and the company agreed to a five-year lease. There will also be two five-year options on the lease, which would tie the authority and the company together for 15 years.

“They are an existing tenant,” said Paul Gerrety, JAA’s Properties Manager. “We anticipate they will keep their facility and continue to grow.”

The authority will build the hangar and lease it to ManTech once it is completed. The facility includes a 31,000-square-foot hangar plus approximately 7,500 square feet of shop and office space.

Gerrety noted the front-loaded lease, which will charge the company $21.60 per square foot, is projected to produce $939,000 in revenue for the authority in Year 1.

ManTech handles IT projects and operations security services. In the past 12 months, the company has been awarded $786.2 million in federal contracts.

Board member Michelle Barnett questioned whether it was wise to tie rental rates ahead of a Dec. 17 workshop devoted to Cecil Airport. Her concerns were assuaged when Gerrety noted the terms of the lease would revert to market rates should the authority and ManTech agree to a five-year option.

In other news, the board discussed CEO Mark VanLoh’s performance review.

“We really tested his mettle when the pandemic hit,” said board member Russell Thomas. “He has done an exemplary job of managing turnover. Having a number of senior staff take voluntary retirement, continuing to support the organization and making sure we get through this without a hitch.”

In April, 52 employees accepted early retirement packages that provided six months of salary and medical benefits paid for with Coronavirus Aid Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding.

The board, by a 5-1 vote, approved a 7.5% bonus and a 3% salary increase. However, VanLoh declined the bonus, citing the impact the pandemic has had on the airline industry.

“I can’t give my employees a bonus…it’s not the time,” VanLoh said. “I would rather stay with the pay increase.”

Those pandemic impacts are still being felt.

While passenger activity for October was 14% higher than the late-summer nadir, JAA Chief Financial Officer Ross Jones said October’s passenger numbers were down 63% from October 2019 and revenue for the month was down 36% from October 2019.

Jones noted parking revenue for October was down 75% from October 2019. Nevertheless, the airport finished the month with a $1.62 million surplus in operating income.

Jacksonville’s daily air travel hit a post-Covid high of 5,500 travelers on Sunday. However, that number was below the 7,500 anticipated because hundreds of flyers cancelled their trips after the Centers for Disease Control discouraged traveling for the Thanksgiving holiday.

“A lot of people at the last minute didn’t fly, and we saw that,” VanLoh said. “Wednesday wasn’t as good as it should have been. Because of Covid, people started leaving for Thanksgiving last week.”

Nationally, 1.17 million passengers went through Transportation Security Administration checkpoints on Sunday, the highest single day figure since March 16. https://www.bizjournals.com/jacksonville/news/2020/11/30/jaa-nov-2020-board-meeting.html