Thursday, March 08, 2012

Council considers operating Moore-Murrell Airport (KMOR), Morristown, Tennessee

The Morristown City Council will weigh the costs and benefits of taking over operations of the Morristown airport before signing a new contract with a fixed-based operator, officials say.

The contract with the airport’s current fixed-based operator, FBO, Morristown Air Service expires on June 1.

The FBO is responsible for providing day-to-day airport management, and receives the lion’s share of the revenue from hangar rentals and fuel sales.

The public decision-making process begins at 4 p.m. on Monday, March 26 in Council Chambers with an open forum.

Prospective FBO bidders, pilots and airport users will have the opportunity to offer input on what direction they believe city government should take.

Councilmember Chris Bivens appeared to capture the mood of city council when he said he’s not convinced city government should manage the airport.

“I want to know why we don’t want to get into it,” Bivens said.

Should councilmembers choose to take over airport operations, the leading candidate for airport manager is Assistant City Administrator Ralph “Buddy” Fielder, who has served as city government’s point man for airport issues.

Councilmembers said Tuesday evening they do not yet have enough facts to make an informed decision, but whatever happens, city government’s contract with its FBO is likely to change.

Councilmembers were told that five individuals are interested in bidding on the FBO contract, which could include a different revenue-sharing split.

Morristown Air Service receives 67 percent of the revenue from city-owned hangars, and gives city government 8 cents for every gallon of aviation fuel it sells.

Also, city government is responsible for mowing the grounds and major maintenance on the terminal and other structures.

Morristown City Administrator Tony Cox says it’s impossible for councilmembers to consider all options and make a decision by June 1, the day the contract with Morristown Air Service expires.

Cox says he’ll be consulting with the current FBO with a view to extending the contract for 90 days to give time for councilmembers to make a decision.

Morristown Air Service, which has had the FBO contract for approximately 12 years, is not obliged to operate the airport on a temporary basis.

Fielder says most municipalities the size of Morristown manage their own operations, but frequently have a governing airport board to steer the ship.

Long-time local pilot Lloyd “Bounce” Bible volunteered his services as an impartial advisor to councilmembers prior to the March 26 public meeting, an offer that was tacitly accepted.

Bible opined that city’s FBO could provide better fueling and maintenance services.

Bible says that airport management is a non-intuitive enterprise that requires specialized knowledge, and that he’s willing to work with Fielder to develop criteria for the decision-making process.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.