(New York, NY) Â – Saker Aviation Services, the operator of the Downtown Manhattan Heliport, announced that it has reopened the heliport and associated services after a nearly 6-month rebuild of the facilities in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. Â The heliport â€“ which served as a critical emergency response hub in the immediate aftermath of the storm â€“ had been operating out of temporary facilities on the premises. A celebratory reception commemorating the reopening and the unveiling of the new heliport facilities will take place Thursday evening.
â€œIn the immediate aftermath of the hurricane we were all reminded of the important role helicopters play in emergency response for New York City,â€ said Brian Tolbert, Saker Aviationâ€™s Heliport Manager. Â â€œFederal, state and local helicopters reached the storm-damaged area via the heliport beginning the day after the Hurricane, solidifying our reputation as an essential part of New York Cityâ€™s emergency response system. Â Our collective response also exemplified the resiliency of New Yorkers and the helicopter/heliport business culture. Â We are proud to be back even stronger than ever.â€
Hurricane Sandy impacted the Downtown Manhattan Heliportâ€™s first floor, which was completely devastated and rendered uninhabitable. However, despite this operational space being destroyed, regular business resumed from the exterior of the facility just one week after the storm and continued from a temporary tent in the parking lot as it became apparent that the remediation and reconstruction effort would span multiple months.
In addition to the heliportâ€™s role in emergency response, Saker is a proud member of the Eastern Region Helicopter Council (ERHC) and complements their efforts to voluntarily seek donations and conduct multiple airlifts of thousands of pounds of supplies to Staten Island. Not only were there supply drops, ERHC volunteered to provide helicopter flights to government officials and first responders to survey neighborhoods damaged by Superstorm Sandy as part of the ERHCâ€™s Helicopter Emergency Response Program, a 30 year-old effort to provide helicopter response services to those in need.
The Downtown Manhattan Heliport supports nearly 300 individuals, and by virtue of the rapid response and reconfiguration of work-flow, each of these jobs remains intact. The Downtown Manhattan Heliport, one of three heliports in Manhattan, generates $33.2M annually in economic output to the city from helicopter tourism alone, making it an essential underpinning to the growth, success and economic health of New York City.