Beta Technologies interested in buying NEK airport
LYNDONVILLE, Vt. (WCAX) - Beta Technologies, the Burlington-based electric plane startup, is now interested in buying the Caledonia County Airport in Lyndonville, according to state transportation officials.
Vermont Transportation Secretary Joe Flynn testified in front of lawmakers this week about plans for the state-owned airport and the millions of dollars in needed repairs. However, a potential sale of the airport to a private company has some local leaders looking up.
“It is an active airport and we really do need it,” said Darcie McCann, executive director of the Northeast Kingdom Chamber of Commerce.
But in order for the airport to become FAA compliant, it needs expensive upgrades to its runway and taxiways to the tune of upwards of $14 million, Flynn told the Senate Transportation Committee.
“We wish we had some level of improvement over the past 15 years or so. We understand there have been budget constraints,” McCann said.
But that’s where Beta Technologies comes into the fold. According to Flynn, the company’s founder, Kyle Clark, expressed interest in buying the property as part of its ambitious effort to launch a vertical take-off and landing aircraft.
“A privately owned facility is certainly something that would add to our grand list locally,” said Lyndon Municipal Administrator Justin Smith.
A Beta spokesperson told WCAX in a statement: “To the extent that increasing investment in the Caledonia County State Airport could unlock economic development and workforce opportunities in the Kingdom, BETA and Kyle would be interested in being part of that conversation.”
For those who live in Caledonia County, it could mean the difference between kids leaving or staying. “They graduate from high school, graduate from college, and leave quite often,” Smith said.
A potential sale price has not been disclosed, nor has a timeline for a deal. But if the state were to go it alone, Flynn says FAA funding for potential upgrades would not be on their priority list for several years.
“I would want it to remain open to the public so tourists can come in and out and businesses can still use it, private pilots in the area can still use it. But, it shows promise,” McCann said.
Any potential sale of the property would first have to be approved by the General Assembly, and according to Flynn’s testimony, if the state did not receive a “reasonable offer,” it would not be moving forward with a sale.
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