Boeing discussing sale of closed Wichita site

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Boeing Co. is discussing the sale of the sprawling site it closed in south Wichita, which might require the company to move its Dreamlifter operations to Mid-Continent Airport if the sale goes through, company officials said.

“We are still in discussions with a prospective buyer for the site, but cannot disclose any further details while contract negotiations are underway,” Kathleen Spicer, a Boeing spokeswoman, said in an email to The Wichita Eagle (http://bit.ly/1uFRtoa ).

Boeing has been in Wichita since 1927 and once employed 40,000 people. But in January 2012, it announced it would close its Wichita facilities and move work to Oklahoma City, San Antonio and the Seattle area.

The company currently flies specially modified 747s, called the Dreamlifter, to Wichita to pick up fuselage sections built by Spirit AeroSystems, with the planes landing at McConnell Air Force Base. Boeing says those operations might have to move to Mid-Continent Airport if the Wichita property is sold.

Boeing and Wichita Airport Authority officials are talking weekly as Boeing considers its options for Dreamlifter, said Victor White, Wichita’s director of airports.

White said he expects the airport to provide a business proposal this month to Boeing outlining potential costs and facilities that will be available. Boeing has hired a consultant to analyze the possible move.

The move would be complicated because a specially modified truck would need to haul the long, wide and tall fuselage sections from Spirit to the airport, White said, requiring cooperation from entities such as Westar, Wichita’s traffic department and Sedgwick County.

Boeing is considering flying in in 747s several times a week for 30 years, he said. The airport’s runways and taxiways are in good shape but a parking area and an access road would have to be built inside the airfield, White said. It will take time to make the decision and complete a transition, he said, noting it could take a year or two just for Boeing to design and build a special loader transport vehicle.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 

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