Montrose County Considering Second FBO at Airport
by William Woody
Aug 15, 2013 | 3035 views | 0 0 comments | 53 53 recommendations | email to a friend | print
FROM A DISTANCE – Proposals for a second fixed-based operator at Montrose Regional Airport is expected to be presented to the Montrose Board of County Commissioners by the end of the week. (File photo by William Woody)
FROM A DISTANCE – Proposals for a second fixed-based operator at Montrose Regional Airport is expected to be presented to the Montrose Board of County Commissioners by the end of the week. (File photo by William Woody)
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MONTROSE – The Montrose Board of County Commissioners, "through a transparent and competitive process," will consider allowing a second Fixed Base Operator at the Montrose Regional Airport.

A request for consideration of a new FBO came from an as-yet unnamed private East Coast business whose representatives have asked to submit a Request for Proposal.

A Sept. 18 deadline for that RFP has been set, and the commissioners could hand down their decision by October.

The airport is a county-owned property; the Black Canyon Jet Center, its current FBO provider, is the only FBO serving general aviation needs and offering fuel sales.

Commissioner Gary Ellis said Tuesday the county "is always looking to expand business opportunities at the airport, and airport expansion, he said, “"is the number one priority of our citizen-driven strategic plan.” 

Ellis added that at present, the county has simply responded to a query from a private business, and that he has “no complaints” regarding the current operations of the Black Canyon Jet Center.

That said, "Competition has always been the backbone of American business," Ellis said, and the airport business is a free-enterprise system. "We're not in the business of driving the private sector,” he said.

Ellis did not identify the company in question. To be considered, a company applying needs to conform to all rules and standards set forth by the county RFP process. 

In 2005, the county commissioners voted unanimously to privatize the county's FBO, and received two bids, and Jet Center Partners, founders of the Black Canyon Jet Center, won the FBO contract. JetAway Aviation, proposing an off-airport FBO run on a "through-the-fence agreement" with the county, lost its bid for the FBO, and soon accused the county of conspiring with Jet Center Partners to create a monopoly. The result was an eight-year legal battle, millions of dollars in legal expenses. 

In the wake of this latest application, Commissioner Ron Henderson said, "Recruiting a second fixed base operation service provider at the Montrose Regional Airport will fulfill the intent of the taxpayers of Montrose County to maximize the airport as an economic driver providing general aviation service for recreational tourism. Free enterprise is alive and well in Montrose County."

The county has said that any company hoping to open an FBO at the Montrose airport will have to build new taxiways and other infrastructure in order to operate within the airport's property boundary, and that it "will not consider any proposal" calling for off-airport or "through- the-fence" location outside the airport boundary.

Commissioner David White said the commissioners "have a core responsibility to ensure that anyone seeking to do business in Montrose County experiences a positive opportunity to do so."

"Issuing a request for proposal for a second fixed base operator allows us to fulfill our responsibility to the citizens of Montrose County to provide economic growth and responsible government," White said this week.

County Manager Rick Eckert said the county owns "several under-utilized airport parcels that are synergistically creating exciting new economic development opportunities."

The airport currently operates at a loss and creating new businesses at the airport will help generate new revenue to cover the airports costs. "Recruiting a second FBO service provider will facilitate additional customer service, while helping to fund airport infrastructure and facilities improvements," said County Director of Aviation Lloyd Arnold.

In its contract with Montrose County, the Black Canyon Jet Center has agreed to give the county the terminal, its fuel farm and hangars after 30 years. BCJC has spent more than $4 million on county aviation improvements since being awarded the FBO contract. In 2010, the Black Canyon Jet Center was named the 26th best FBO in the U.S. by Airport International News, an industry guide for private pilots.

For more information on the RFP, visit www.montrosecounty.net, call the Montrose Regional Airport at 970/249-3433 or email fboproposal@montrosecounty.net.

The county's RFP proposal is available online at: www.montrosecounty.net/DocumentCenter/View/5367 

 

wwoody@watchnewspapers.com

Twitter.com/williamwoodyCO

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