Turners Falls Municipal Airport considers buying Pioneer Aviation

  • The Turners Falls Municipal Airport is considering buying the neighboring Pioneer Aviation, which includes a flight school and fueling and maintenance facilities. Staff File Photo/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 8/26/2020 1:50:46 PM

TURNERS FALLS — If the Turners Falls Municipal Airport goes through with buying the neighboring Pioneer Aviation, as it is considering, revenue from the businesses is expected to fully eliminate the airport’s need to receive funding from the town while still generating surplus revenue.

Pioneer Aviation, which includes a flight school and fueling and maintenance facilities on 10.4 acres of land, has not been advertised as being for sale, but the owners have suggested they may be interested in selling soon, according to Turners Falls Airport Manager Bryan Camden.

Depending on the sale price, the airport will ask the town to provide up to $75,000 as a loan to the airport, likely at Town Meeting either this fall or spring, Camden said. The airport plans to be able to pay back the money within four years.

A full sale price is not known yet, Camden said, but he estimated it could be between $1.2 and $1.5 million. Ninety-five percent of the purchase price would be covered by a Federal Aviation Administration grant program that typically supports property acquisitions and infrastructure improvements. The last 5 percent would come from the proposed loan from the town.

The owners of Pioneer Aviation, Charles Bohonowicz and his son Bruce Bohonowicz, both died within three months of one another in the winter of 2017 and 2018. Since then, other members of the Bohonowicz family have been managing the business, Camden said. The Turners Falls Airport has also provided some support, recognizing the importance of the business to its own success, he said.

Speaking with the Selectboard on Monday, Camden emphasized that the services provided by Pioneer Aviation are critical to the viability of the airport, and noted that a sale of the property to a non-aviation business would likely jeopardize the viability of the airport.

“Typically if your tenants can’t get fuel at your airport, they’re going to be looking to relocate,” Camden said. “It wouldn’t be the demise of the airport, but it would be the beginning of the end. I would bet my job on that.”

A timetable on the potential sale is not clear yet, Camden said, but he said he hopes to be able to finalize it in the current fiscal year, which ends at the end of June 2021. He said whether the question of the loan appears on the warrant for the fall Special Town Meeting or the spring Annual Town Meeting will mostly depend on whether the Selectboard and town administrator finalize the fall meeting warrant before purchase negotiations have been made.

Reach Max Marcus at mmarcus@recorder.com or 413-930-4231.


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