What is the next step in Bridgeport’s plan to sell Sikorsky Airport?

Namely, Bridgeport City Council and the Federal Aviation Administration have yet to approve the transfer and the sale price of $10 million.

A contract still needs to be drafted and it needs to go through at least one Bridgeport board committee before being sent back to the full board for a final vote, said board chairman Aidee Nieves. The exact committees needed are still being determined.

Daniel Roach, assistant to Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim, estimated the earliest the city council could vote on a sale would be its second meeting in June, scheduled for June 21. Nieves asked about the schedule at Thursday’s airport commission meeting, but no response was forthcoming, she said. She estimated that a vote could take place in July or August.

“We are very eager to complete it as soon as possible as we are aware of the potential opportunities that we don’t want to miss,” said CAA chief executive Kevin Dillon. “The sooner we can take possession of the property and begin some of the improvements that will be necessary to take advantage of these opportunities, the better certainly will be.”

Once the deal is done, Dillon said the CAA will start working on the necessary upgrades, which could cost around $62 million. These include the resurfacing of runways and taxiways and the construction of “at least” one temporary terminal, should the CAA decide to reintroduce commercial passenger service at the airport.

“I am very pleased that we have reached a vote to sell to CAA,” Ganim said in a statement Thursday. “The City has worked diligently over the past few years to bring passenger service back to the airport and this transfer of ownership should expedite that process.”

Roach said the major issues of the deal are “roughly agreed upon” and only minor details of the term sheet – the guidelines for a $10 million sale proposed by the CAA in February – have yet to be completed. be specified. This includes decisions about who conducts environmental assessments and any environmental cleanups that may be needed, Nieves said.

The cost of selling the airport must also be finalized, as it is subject to FAA approval. That will be determined by a city audit, Dillon said. The city can only be reimbursed for what it lost on the airport, he said.

The FAA could not be reached for comment on the duration of this process.

The FAA must also grant CAA sponsorship of the airport, which would allow it to assume existing grant obligations and open federal grants to CAA, Dillon said. The authority assumes all of the city’s current obligations in the sales contract, he said. He said he felt “very confident” in a “rapid sponsorship transition”.

“The FAA wants to ensure that any party taking ownership of the airport has the capability to manage the airport and meet all requirements,” Dillon said.

Another element of the negotiations concerns the current workers of Sikorsky. The term sheet for the sale says all current Bridgeport employees and airport manager Michelle Muoio will be offered continued employment. Dillon reiterated that sentiment again at the committee meeting on Thursday.

“We are committed to ensuring that every employee currently employed will continue to be offered employment if they wish to continue working at the airport and we certainly hope they will,” Dillon said.

He said they need to sit down with the unions to discuss the nature of the job transfer, whether through a third-party operator or reimbursement from the city. According to Muoio, there are four unions the city and CAA should work with, totaling 10 workers.

“We are confident that the workers will be taken care of,” Roach said.

Muoio said airport staff feel “really satisfied with the decision made by the commission” and that she is “pretty confident” that it will benefit airport employees.

“We are just very grateful for CAA’s commitment to retaining employees,” Muoio said. “Everyone is happy to be part of the airport and the next chapter in their lives.”

While the deal still needs council approval, Roach said the mayor’s office doesn’t anticipate it being voted down. In this case, however, the city “will weigh our options,” he said.

Bridgeport factored $4 million of the sale price into its 2022-23 budget. In the event that he is rejected, Roach said there is “plenty of room” in the budget to make up for it.

Nieves, who once opposed the sale of the airport and preferred the city to keep Sikorsky and lease it, voted in favor of the CAA proposal on Thursday. She said she thought the CAA’s proposal – which was chosen by the commission over last-minute land presented by the town of Stratford – was more economically viable. She highlighted CAA’s development capabilities and said she would be able to transition the airport “much faster”.

“We don’t have to go through two municipalities to get things done,” she said. “It could streamline it and be a booster for both Bridgeport and Stratford.”

mike.mavredakis@hearstmediact.com


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