Home News Local News AerSale receives closure notice related to COVID-19 cases

AerSale receives closure notice related to COVID-19 cases

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The chairman of AerSale Inc. says its operations are deemed essential by the federal government, so its Roswell facilities remain open. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

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A Roswell business continues to operate at least in some of its local buildings after receiving a temporary closure order from the state due to recent COVID-19 cases.

A corporate executive said its operations are considered necessary by the federal government.

“The operations of AerSale at the Roswell Air Center are deemed by the United States Department of Homeland Security as part of the nation’s critical infrastructure in the transportation sector,” Nicolas Finazzo, chairman and chief executive officer of the corporation, said in an email. “As such, AerSale is collaborating with the New Mexico Department of Health to ensure the safety of its employees and the community.”

AerSale is part of a national aviation services corporation based in Florida, with some overseas sales operations as well. Its Roswell operations involve maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) and parts manufacturing for military, cargo, corporate and commercial passenger aircraft.

On Nov. 6, Billy Jimenez, New Mexico Department of Health acting secretary, sent a letter to the company indicating that its 703 E. Challenger Road location at the Roswell Air Center needed to be closed through Nov. 19 because four positive COVID-19 tests had been reported to the state on four occasions during a two-week period. Those days were Oct. 23, Oct. 28, Oct. 31 and Nov. 1.

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The letter also recommended that all workers be tested and warned of possible monetary, civil or criminal penalties for non-compliance with state orders.

According to Maddy Hayden, New Mexico Environment Department public information officer, 14 employees and 53 contract workers at AerSale are now known to have tested positive. She said the closure notice applied to the 703 E. Challenger Road address. AerSale operates out of several sites at the Air Center.

The New Mexico Environment Department heads up the Rapid Response effort, which aims to prevent the spread of the coronavirus beyond the initial cases reported by businesses.

Sanitizing of facilities, isolating and quarantining of affected employees, employee testing and contact tracing are typically involved in efforts to contain the virus.

According to a state website, AerSale is one of eight companies statewide that have been issued closure notices since Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced Oct. 22 what she described as “targeted” efforts to prevent the high number of coronavirus cases in the state.

That included requiring two-week closures of food and drink establishments, places of lodging, retail operations, “close contact” businesses such as gyms or salons, or any other operation considered “high risk” if they had four or more Rapid Responses within a 14-day period.

In addition to the eight companies on the temporary closure list on Wednesday, more than 100 are on a “watchlist” for having had two or more Rapid Response actions during the past 14 days.

One of the other businesses issued a closure notice, Stampede Meat Inc. of Sunland Park in Doña Ana County, sued the state Friday in the U.S. District Court of New Mexico. The corporation, which also operates in Illinois, is arguing that the state order conflicts with a federal executive order requiring meat processing facilities to remain open.

Deming Manufactured Homes LLC of Luna County also filed suit against the state on Sunday in New Mexico 6th Judicial District Court.

The company’s arguments against closure include that its facilities do not present a high risk, that the state notices are being arbitrarily given and that its workforce of 150 or so employees is safer and more protected if people report to work and get tested and screened than if they are furloughed.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 351, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.