City council to address expansion conflicts at Burlington airport

The Burlington International Airport property is undergoing major changes as Beta Technologies expands its aircraft manufacturing facility.
Published: Jan. 13, 2022 at 5:51 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 14, 2022 at 5:10 AM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - The Burlington International Airport property is undergoing major changes as Beta Technologies expands its aircraft manufacturing facility. But that expansion plan has some other airport tenants frustrated about how it impacts their current lease agreements.

Two tenants and 18 others with general aviation interests at the airport signed on to a recent letter asking the Burlington City Council and the mayor to create a task force to look at what’s going on at the airport.

Eric Chase, the owner of Mansfield Heliflight, says his lease agreement with the airport is being redrawn to exclude the parking lot space so that it can be shared with Beta. He says he had big plans for the space and is frustrated.

“I don’t look at it like we are trading a parking lot for a trucking depot. I look at it that that’s valuable land that aircraft we’re supposed to be utilizing and the only reasons they are not is the airport did not do what they said they were going to do -- which was to support us in doing that,” Chase said. He says while he’s extremely supportive of the general aviation community, he is simply asking for fairness.

Nic Longo, the airport’s acting director of aviation, had told the council that the Beta lease expansion would not impact any aviation tenant’s airfield space, which the parking lot is not part of. Instead, Longo says that while the parking lot will be shared, it also will be upgraded, which will make it better for everyone.

“This is not being removed from the building or any current lease-holder, it’s being shared with another lease-holder to accommodate a new tenant’s needs, but also accommodating existing tenant needs as well, whether we are talking access or parking of vehicles,” Longo said.

The airport’s master plan also highlights the ambitious goals Beta has for the future, including the expansion of a manufacturing facility that will bring jobs to the area. Chris Caputo, a Beta team member, says he’s excited to work with the general aviation community as they build electric sustainable aircraft. “General aviation is hugely important to the success of our mission. We are going to rely on pilots and maintainers and technicians moving forward as we bring this green technology, zero-emission, all-electric aircraft to the general aviation community,” he said.

Longo says he will work with the tenants on the leases but he stresses there are many others in the general aviation community who support the changes coming to the airport. He’s excited about the master plan and supporting the new and existing tenants. “My hope is to accommodate to the traveling public a really healthy, competitive market with airlines and also a healthy competitive market with all of our tenants,” he said.

The council is expected to address some of the issues at their January 24th meeting. Longo says he is opposed to a task force because that work has already been done.

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