The general manager of an aviation company that operates at the Clovis Municipal Airport said the city has banned him from airport property because he has raised concerns about the airport director — but the city’s attorney said the action is justifiable.
In a letter from City Manager Larry Fry to Blue Sky Aviation General Manager Carlos Arias dated Oct. 4, 2016, Arias is informed “The City of Clovis hereby notifies you that from receipt of this letter, and until rescinded in writing, you are banned from Clovis Municipal Airport. You must relinquish access cards. You are not permitted to enter or remain upon any portion of the airport property. Violation of this notice will constitute a criminal trespass and will result in arrest and prosecution.”
The letter cites Chapter 30, Article 14 of the New Mexico State Statutes regarding trespassing.
“I contacted (City Attorney) Mr. (David) Richards and Mr. Fry to get a reason and they declined to offer a reason,” Arias said with regard to the ban. “I was in my office and the letter was hand delivered by the Clovis Police Department. I was escorted off the premises.”
Arias said he believes the ban order stems from he and others alleging improprieties by Clovis Municipal Airport Director Kyle Berkshire.
“I am a member of the Clovis Pilots Association and we have been involved with allegations of violations against Mr. Berkshire,” he said. “We’re holding the city accountable for rules and regulations violations. I believe the ban is retaliatory. I was actually in the process of completing a formal complaint against Mr. Berkshire when the police appeared on the premises. I believe my rights have been violated, because this is a publicly-subsidized airport.”
Richards said the city has grounds for the ban.
“The ban was justified and is in compliance with New Mexico law,” he said. “The law does not require a landowner to supply a reason for not allowing someone to enter that person’s land. The ban was not retaliatory.”
Last month, Clovis Pilots Association President Robert Thorn alleged in an email to city officials Berkshire flew his airplane on city business to Albuquerque International Airport from Clovis Municipal Airport and then back as a student pilot without the knowledge of his instructor.
Thorn wrote Berkshire’s alleged actions were “the equivalent of a city employee driving their personal car that is not registered doing city business without a driver’s license to Albuquerque and back.”
Berkshire has denied the allegations.