Airport for sale (with just a few caveats…)

If you are in the market for an airport, General Aviation News has reported that Rock Airport (9G1), an industrial airport and airpark about 12 miles from downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is scheduled for public auction in the spring. Rock Airport

The airport was bought in 1998 by Rock Ferrone, an inventor and manufacturer of newspaper printing equipment who was also a private pilot with a Cessna 182. However, Rock then determined that he was wasting time traveling from his manufacturing plant to the airport. So he built a new facility in a business airpark next to the airport.

In addition, the airport has been generously supported by American and Pennsylvania taxpayers as it has received more than $14 million in general aviation grants from Pennsylvania plus other state and federal money for its expansion. In fact, officials estimate that the total investment made in airport is well over $22 million plus its part of a special opportunity zone that grants tax exemptions at the state, local and county.

Today, the airport is now in bankruptcy and has a $6 million bid – a real bargain compared with the taxpayer investment in it, but airport officials hope to find more bidders who might be willing to pay more. However, there are a few other catches as a US Bankruptcy Court has scheduled a hearing for March 11 to hear objections to the $6 million offer while another hearing set for April 5 will be when other bidders can make better offers with the next bid having to be at least $6.2 million.

In addition, the airport has been the subject of around 95 lawsuits dating back to 2001 and some of the lawsuits are from government taxing bodies who claim the airport owes $64,000 in taxes (Ferrone claims that the airport should be exempt from those taxes because of the opportunity zone). So maybe Rock Airport was exactly a field of dreams for the previous owner nor has it been one for American taxpayers!

Ironically, the airport could still be a bargain for whoever buys it because it comes with the gas and mineral rights for the Marcellus Shale with revenue stream projections by independent experts projecting income of more than $11 million within the first 10 years if the gas is extracted. In other words, Rock Airport is an airport with its own gas supply. Given the high cost of avgas, what more could a pilot-owner want?!!

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