Citadel Completions will open an aircraft maintenance center in Lake Charles that will modify the interiors of jets, a move that will create 256 jobs.
The company will take up some hangar space that had formerly been occupied by Aeroframe Services and its successor, AAR. AAR started operations at Chennault International Airport in 2013, but shut down three years later. The companies had operated a maintenance, repair and overhaul facility at the airport for wide-body aircraft.
Louisiana Economic Development said Thursday the Citadel jobs will have an average annual salary of $80,000, plus benefits. The maintenance center also will create 347 indirect jobs.
Citadel will invest $17.6 million at Chennault. The company will occupy two hangars and an administrative building at the airport, taking up more than 280,000 square feet.
Citadel, which was created and financed by Las Vegas billionaire Sheldon Adelson, provides interior completions for luxury and commercial aircraft. In addition to providing jet interior modifications, Citadel will operate maintenance, repair and overhaul services, as space is available.
The company is already hiring employees. Citadel expects to begin operations in the fall.
LED officials said the work Citadel will be doing will be a little different than former Chennault tenant AAR because it will center on the interiors of jets. Aeroframe and AAR were mainly involved in servicing and repairing the underpinnings and avionics framework of planes.
AAR had said it would eventually employ 750 people in Lake Charles by 2017. But LED officials said Thursday that AAR never met its employment goals and, therefore, didn't earn any incentives that had been offered by the state to lure the project to Chennault.
In the aftermath, LED said it began reviewing project possibilities in May 2017, and in November 2017 entered discussions with officials of what would become Citadel. The state offered Citadel an incentive package that includes a performance-based grant of $7 million to defray the cost of facility modifications, payable in seven consecutive yearly installments, along with a $2 million performance-based grant for lease support. Citadel also is expected to use Louisiana’s Industrial Tax Exemption and Quality Jobs programs.