Sussex reduces rent for PATS Aircraft Systems

County, company agree to lower hangar costs
April 4, 2013

Sussex County Council has reduced the rent for its largest airpark tenant. By amending a lease agreement, officials reduced the rental cost on a hangar used by PATS Aircraft Systems.

PATS will now pay $120,800 per month for the hangar compared to the nearly $250,000 the company has paid since the original lease was signed in 2005. The lease expires in 2020 and the monthly lease fee is renegotiated every five years.

Finance Director Susan Webb said the amended agreement is more in line with other leases in the airpark. It removes an option-to-purchase clause that PATS was no longer interested in, which drove up the cost of the original lease, Webb said.

PATS CEO John Martin said the company is committed to maintaining its facility in Georgetown. “We are pleased to be there, and we are excited about our growth opportunities,” he told council during its March 19 meeting.

Martin said he has to ensure that his company's costs are as low as possible. “That helps to drive the profit our owners require and helps me convince them this is a good place to be and to remain in Sussex County,” he said. “It's imperative that we show a solid plan to reduce our costs.”

Martin said the partnership with Sussex County is a very positive one.

PATS, one of the largest employers in the county, has 350 employees on its payroll. Martin said mechanics and hangar employees make from $25 to $30 an hour, and the 40 to 50 engineers on staff make as much as six-figure salaries.

PATS is a global company providing services to executive jets, including the installation of auxiliary fuel tanks, maintenance and modifications and executive aircraft interiors to customers – including heads of state – all over the world.

Founded by Harvey Patrick in Columbia, Md., in 1977, the Sussex County plant opened in 1998 and the first jet interior project was completed in 2002. PATS operates out of four hangars capable of housing up to seven Boeing 737 jets, along with a manufacturing facility and training and engineering buildings.

In 2009, Hollingsead International closed its California location and relocated to the PATS facility in Georgetown. Hollingsead is the leading supplier of avionics integration and mounting equipment.

PATS won the FAA Diamond Award for Excellence in 2010, 2011 and 2012.

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