AUBURN — A Portland-based charter air carrier announced Thursday it has signed a long-term lease with the Auburn-Lewiston Municipal Airport for 27,000 square feet of hangar and office space.

The move is expected to bring 100 jobs to the Twin Cities as Elite Airways moves into the largest hangar at the airport. The facility will serve as the airline’s northern maintenance base to support its growing fleet of aircraft.

“We’ve had our eyes on this hangar for quite a while,” Elite President John Pearsall said Thursday. “We’ll be a terrific community partner.”

Elite operates a charter business throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and South America, with select scheduled service throughout the U.S. and the Caribbean. The company expects to begin moving into the Auburn hangar Jan. 15.

“You’ll see the first aircraft here shortly after that,” Pearsall said.

Elite officials said the airline has nearly doubled its workforce and added additional planes over the past year. The company now employs 240 and expects to add 100 aircraft maintenance technicians, mechanics, support personnel, pilots and flight crew once it moves into the hangar.

Elite and A-L airport officials announced the news at a brief news conference at the airport.

“Today’s announcement is an exciting one as we welcome Elite Airways to the Auburn-Lewiston airport,” said Bettyann Sheats, chairwoman of the airport board.

“I believe Elite’s choice reflects the quality of our airport and the improvements we have made over the past several years, as well as the vitality of Androscoggin County and the economic opportunities the area presents,” Sheats said.

“With a long-term lease now in place, valued at $2.6 million, we are well-positioned to continue with plans for additional expansion. I am looking forward to exploring opportunities with Elite Airways to mutually grow our operations.” 

Part of the Elite Airways fleet.A hanger at Auburn-Lewiston Muncipal Airport will soon be occupied by Elite Airways.

Auburn Lewiston Airport Board Chair Bettyann Sheats, to the right of the screen, representing the board members, right, welcomes members of the management team of Elite Airways, left, during a press conference at the Auburn Lewiston Airport Thursday evening where it was announced that the Portland-based company will rent a large hangar at the airport. (SUN JOURNAL PHOTO BY RUSS DILLINGHAM)

Auburn Lewiston Airport Manager Rick Lanman, right, talks with Elite Airways President John Pearsall during a press conference Thursday to announce that the Portland-based airline signed a long-term lease agreement to rent the hangar previously used by the Lufthansa’s restoration project recently abandoned and moved back to Germany. (SUN JOURNAL PHOTO BY RUSS DILLINGHAM)

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