LAKE CHARLES, Louisiana — AAR Corp. says its Lake Charles aircraft maintenance shop has signed with a major carrier and will begin employing up to 175 mechanics within the next two months.
Technical services vice president Danny Martinez said he cannot release the customer's name but it's a top-tier company.
About 70 AAR mechanics returned last week to Chennault International Airport, the American Press (http://bit.ly/1nq9aCi) reported.
"Things are starting to pick up as we hoped and planned it would," Martinez said. "The doors are open, and we're hiring people."
AAR, based in Wood Dale, Illinois, gave aircraft mechanics in Lake Charles the option to work at its facilities in Indiana and Minnesota until it found more work in Lake Charles.
"That was a very successful project in that it helped us here because we were lighter in work," Martinez said. "They were out working on aircraft and gaining experience."
Martinez said Chennault is shaping up to repair wide-body aircraft. He says that's lacking in the company's other six maintenance locations, including Florida, Arkansas, Oklahoma and New Mexico.
"The most important thing for us right now is to get the new hangar up and running," he said. AAR has five hangars leased from Chennault. Work on the $21 million new hanger began a year ago and, with a target ready-to-use date of Sept. 15.
The state offered AAR an incentive package that included a $2 million performance-based grant. In October 2013, AAR was given a 10-year tax exemption from the Calcasieu Parish School Board — a request that was denied to Aeroframe in May 2013, three months before the company ceased operations, unable to pay its workers for their last two weeks of work.
AAR has one remaining aircraft from Aeroframe. Martinez said it is being painted and "should be gone shortly."
Information from: American Press, http://www.americanpress.com