Local News

Bankruptcy Grounds Raleigh Heliport's Primary Tenant

Posted February 4, 2008 2:45 p.m. EST
Updated February 4, 2008 8:10 p.m. EST

— The major tenant of the new Raleigh Heliport filed for bankruptcy Monday and closed its operations, but the heliport's owner said the facility would remain open.

The heliport opened in August inside the Interstate 440 Beltline at Capital Boulevard and became a base for Silver State Helicopters, a pilot-training school headquartered in Las Vegas.

Silver State suspended all of its operations Sunday afternoon and filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy on Monday to liquidate its assets.

In a letter sent to employees over the weekend, President and Chief Executive Jerry Airola blamed the nationwide credit crunch for the shutdown because enrollment declined sharply when students were unable to secure loans for tuition.

"The entire lending industry was crippled in October, and the impact hit all student lending sources particularly hard; we felt this full force," Airola wrote in the letter, which was obtained by KLAS-TV, WRAL's CBS affiliate in Las Vegas.

"Silver State Helicopters has done everything possible to weather the storm and will continue to work on a solution that will allow this company to continue to explore options," he wrote. "Because the monthly operating expenses, even at the recently streamlined levels, continue to exceed cash flow, the board has elected to suspend all operations."

Silver State had about 2,700 students nationally. It was unclear how many students had signed up for classes in Raleigh.

No one from Silver State was at the Raleigh Heliport Monday morning. Airola's letter said surveillance cameras had been installed at all company locations to protect its assets.

Heliport owner Scott Moore said Silver State remains liable for its lease, and the facility would remain open. It also stores helicopters and offers private flights.

The heliport has attracted a whirlwind of criticism from neighbors, who complained that Silver State's flight school wasn't part of the special-use permit city officials granted to allow the heliport to open. Neighbors also complained about early-morning and late-evening noise from the heliport.