Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Airport Authority considering bids to run general aviation services

If contract negotiations go well with a Virginia-based company, ISO Aero Services, which is currently based at the Wilmington International Airport, will be gone within the next month or so.

Tom Barber, chairman of the New Hanover County Airport Authority, said the Brixtel Group and Aero Services both responded to a request for proposals for general aviation services at the airport.

Brixtel Group met more of the desired qualifications and stayed within the five-year lease the authority was offering.

Aero Services officials, however, asked for a 30-year lease, which is something the authority could not honor and still operate in the airport’s master plan, Barber said.

“Their proposal did not meet the requirements of the RFP,” Barber said of Aero Services.

Before the vote was made, which came to a 3-2 split, about a dozen people told authority members they want leaders at Aero Services to win the request.

Authority members Al Roseman and Carter Lambeth voted against entering negotiations with Brixtel officials. Roseman moved to reject both proposals.

Barber and authority members John Perritt and Jonathan Crane voted in favor of Brixtel.

The request called for all proposals of a fixed-base operator to operate at the county’s airport.

The site in question is currently being operated by Aero Services, run by WFC Management’s Ann and Gerry Tremblay, under a month-to-month lease.

They’ve had the month-to-month lease for at least five years, Barber said, but have not had anything longer term.

With the Tremblays losing the bid, they could be out of the general aviation industry at the airport.

Barber said negotiations with Brixtel officials do not guarantee they will take over the site.

If an agreement cannot be made, the authority can choose to absorb the responsibility of the operations or send another RFP out for more bids.

General aviation business is anything relating to planes and flying that is not in the commercial sector, such as standard airlines and flight options. Typical services include overseeing hangars, selling fuel and other private aviation services.

Barber said authority members have tried to stay transparent in the RFP process, something many speakers Wednesday night called foul on.

“We want to promote general aviation and not hurt it,” Barber said.

Earlier in the meeting, Barber said Jon Rosborough, the airport’s director, will retire at the end of the year.

Barber said the board will start the search for a new director and was expected to review resumes for the post Wednesday evening.

Rosborough is currently serving in his 16th year at the airport. Barber said the authority advertised the position several months ago and has received 42 resumes so far.

He said he hopes to take action within the next several months to find someone to replace Rosborough once he leaves at the end of December.

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