Boeing signs 40-year lease with Renton Airport

Boeing signed a 40-year lease with the Renton Municipal Airport Wednesday, shining a bright light on Renton’s future.

“This is a momentous occasion,” said Gregg Zimmerman, City of Renton Public Works director at Monday’s Committee of the Whole meeting.

The lease starts with a 20-year commitment and includes two 10-year renewal options, totaling 40 years.

“We wouldn’t enter into something like this if we weren’t committed to the region,” said Boeing spokesperson Susan Bradley.

The Renton plant has produced over 6,000 737 jetliners since it opened about 68 years ago.

“We’ve done some amazing things with the City of Renton,” Bradley said. “Our identities are kind of intertwined.”

Mayor Denis Law signed the lease Wednesday with top Boeing officials at the Chamber of Commerce, which overlooks the airport.

“Today’s announcement by Boeing and the City of Renton is great news for the state’s aerospace industry and Renton’s local economy,” said Governor Chris Gregoire in a press release.

There was thanks and praise all-around at a May 17 City Council meeting.

“We appreciate the hard work of the City of Renton staff,” said Shaunta Hyde, Boeing government relations manager. “We all came up with a product we really can support.”

Boeing will pay $1.3 million annually to start and the cost will adjust every three years, Zimmerman said.

The company takes up about 60 percent of the airport. It’s former lease of 25 years ends in June.

A goal with the new lease was to make the airport self-sustaining.

The city plans to use the airport’s revenue to cover the cost of maintenance and grant applications without taking from the city’s general fund, he said.

The airport’s runway was repaved July 2009 with a $4.3 million grant from the Federal Aviation Administration.

Boeing’s outlook at the Renton plant is solid for the next 20 years.

This summer Boeing unveiled the P-8A Poseidon, a militarized version of the 737. The Navy plans to purchase 117 of the airplanes, which will be manufactured in Renton.

The company also announced this week that it plans to increase production of the Next Generation 737 airplane from 31.5 per month to 34 in 2012.

“The new lease agreement gives us the flexibility to support 737 programs in the future,” said Beverly Wyse, vice president and general manager of the Boeing 737 Program. “Every day, employees at the Renton site demonstrate their passion for building the best selling single-aisle airplane in the world.”

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