UPDATE: PTIA among suitors for Boeing plant
UPDATED 3:35 P.M.
Piedmont Triad International Airport and officials in Greensboro and High Point hope they can win the national Boeing Co. lottery and the windfall of jobs and investment that will arrive with its new jetliner plant.
The chairman of the Piedmont Triad Airport Authority isn’t confirming that the airport has made a bid for Boeing. But Greensboro elected officials have said a bid has been made, and Airport Authority Chairman Henry Isaacson does confirm to The High Point Enterprise that the airport is going after a major economic development project.
Airports in more than a dozen state are jockeying for the plant that will make Boeing’s 777 jetliner. Boeing officials say they will announce a decision early in the new year about the project that could create thousands of jobs.
Isaacson said Tuesday that “this matter came up rather suddenly” and the governing board of PTIA hasn’t had a closed session about the matter.
“We are not talking about Boeing itself. We are talking about a major economic development project for which we have responded to a request for proposals. We have not mentioned any names,” Isaacson told the Enterprise.
Loren Hill, president of the High Point Economic Development Corp., told the Enterprise that his office is involved in the regional effort.
“While we are not able to talk publicly about anything specifically, I can say that we have been working with our regional allies on a major project that could be located at the airport,” Hill said.
Among the other bidders for Boeing’s production is Charlotte/Douglas International Airport.
The competition underscores Boeing’s commanding bargaining position in an economy where top-notch manufacturing jobs remain scarce and elected officials feel obligated to pursue every growth opportunity, no matter how improbable.
“We have gotten a tremendous response, and it’s obviously created a lot of interest and a lot of excitement,” Boeing spokesman Doug Alder said.
The contest unfolded in a mere matter of weeks after a machinists’ union in Washington state rejected Boeing’s proposed contract for the 777X because it would have replaced their traditional pension with a defined-contribution savings plan.
The Boeing buzz has been loudest in Missouri, where Gov. Jay Nixon immediately convened a special legislative session to approve an incentive package valued at up to $1.7 billion over more than two decades.
Richard Aboulafia, an aerospace analyst at the Fairfax, Va.-based Teal Group Corp., predicts Boeing will use the offers as leverage to get Seattle-area machinists to make concessions, unless the company gets “some kind of unbelievable, almost inconceivably good deal.”
The long-range, twin-aisle 777 is Boeing’s second-largest plane and has been a best-seller since its first flight in 1994. The new 777X is expected to carry as many as 400 passengers, about 35 more than the current model, and be more fuel efficient.
Boeing already has commitments from airlines worldwide to buy 259 planes valued at more than $95 billion.