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$11M airport project to expand American operations

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American Airlines Group Inc. (Nasdaq: AAL) subsidiary Envoy Air Inc. is expanding its aircraft maintenance operations at the Springfield-Branson National Airport through an $11 million project.

Brian Weiler, director of the Springfield airport, said work has begun on a 55,000-square-foot maintenance hangar for Envoy. The project is slated for completion in November on 7 undeveloped acres in the airport's cargo area, he said.

"Our hope down the road is that this will lead to service expansions," Weiler said. "Having this here is huge."

The airport is funding the construction project through a bond issuance approved in September by City Council, he said. Envoy entered a 20-year lease agreement with a 10-year option for the new hangar.

Envoy currently operates a 22,500-square-foot facility in the airport's general aviation area through a lease agreement signed 15 years ago, Weiler said.

The expansion was brought about by Envoy's move toward the use of Embraer E-175 aircraft that hold 76 passengers. At the existing hangar, the company has smaller 45-50-seat aircraft, Weiler said, noting it has been flying E-175s out of the Springfield airport for five years.

The new facility is designed to house three E-175s, as well as shop and training areas, and parts storage. It will have room on the ramp for three more E-175s, Weiler said, noting the current hangar could not house one of the E-175s.

"It will be staffed by Envoy employees, including mechanics, inventory control clerks, management and support personnel," Envoy Vice President of Maintenance Jay Murray said in a news release. "This new facility will continue to support our operation and help create new jobs.”

The release from the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce indicated Envoy would receive an unspecified amount of state incentives for creating new jobs and investment.

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