A recent request from Boeing for space at Renton Municipal Airport would give the aerospace company a little more room to grow and the airport a little less.
After an informal request late last year, in February Boeing sent a formal letter asking for the return of Apron B, which is five aircraft positions below the Chamber of Commerce. Boeing leased the now-vacant Apron B from World War II until 2003, when the company unofficially gave back the land. Apron B was officially handed back to the airport in 2007.
Boeing’s request snuffs out the city’s earlier plan for a corporate aviation center at the airport. The airport is city-owned.
“With that on the table, there really is not space available at the airport to look at any new use,” says Preeti Shridhar, city spokesperson. “I guess that’s the good news part of the deal, especially for folks who were especially concerned about it.”
The proposed jet center had many nearby residents worried about additional plane noise.
Renton Airport Advisory Committee (RAAC) recently approved a new airport layout plan reflecting Boeing’s request. The plan has yet to be approved by City Council.
The negotiation process of returning Apron B to Boeing is just getting under way. The negotiations include details like when the land would go to Boeing and for how long and how much.
Shridhar expects negotiations to take a couple months.
Boeing plans to use Apron B as it uses Apron A at Renton Municipal Airport: to test and perfect its best-selling next-generation 737s, and its soon-to-be-released P-8A Poseidon, a submarine hunter for the U.S. Navy.
Boeing’s 737 is the best-selling plane ever, says Vicki Ray, a Boeing spokesperson. More than 7,000 have sold. More than 4,600 next-generation 737s have been ordered, 2,523 delivered and 2,154 are awaiting delivery.
When finished, each next-generation 737 rolls out of Renton’s Boeing factory to Renton Municipal Airport. Every 737 takes its first flight from Renton’s field, before landing in Seattle for delivery.
“It’s really just giving us more space,” Boeing’s Ray says of Apron B.
The city is happy to offer Boeing a little elbow, or wing, room, Shridhar says.
“We value our history and commitment to Boeing and look forward to working with them,” she says.
Emily Garland can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (425) 255-3484, x. 5052.