Empire Aero touts new JetBlue deal – Work involves plane checks

Empire Aero Center’s new contract with JetBlue Airways means the two companies will continue to do business at least through next year.

The contract, which was announced Friday, includes major checks on at least 20 of the airline’s planes in 2009.

Rob Tilson, North American sales director for Empire Aero, declined to give the dollar amount of the contract, but said it was based on a competitive bid.

“It’s huge,” said Empire Aero employee Lindsey Halpin, who is the company’s JetBlue account manager. “We’ve been after their business since we opened, basically.”

Forest Hills-based JetBlue originally signed a contract with Empire Aero in 2006. The company checked nine JetBlue planes last spring.

The aircraft checks take about 15 days and consist of major overhauls of the planes – including taking off the landing gear, checking all the functions and totally refurbishing the planes, which are Airbus A320 planes, Tilson said.

Air Canada also has signed a continuation of its agreement with Empire Aero, Tilson said.

Those major airlines are “blue-chip,” or especially valued customers with the company, Tilson said. Empire Aero, which is a subsidiary of Israel Aerospace Industries North America, has 476 employees in the Rome-Utica area.

The company at Griffiss Business and Technology Park recently announced it more than doubled its business between 2006 and 2007.

This year, it will take in about $50 million in revenue, Tilson said.

“In two years, they’ve developed a lot of traction in terms of attracting customers and building a solid foundation,” said Steve DiMeo, president of Mohawk Valley EDGE, an economic development agency based in Rome. “They’ve done exactly what they thought they could do when they came here.”

More information can be found at: Observer Dispatch

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