Runge: What’s going on with FBO process? Who knows?
As you know, Pitkin County is in the process of selecting a long-term general aviation fixed base operator for our airport that ties the county to a 30-year contract, giving the winner a highly lucrative monopoly on all general aviation services at our airport.
Unfortunately, the bidding and selection process is being done behind closed doors in executive sessions and by a select committee that works in secret.
Atlantic Aviation, a Texas-based operator, has been the monopoly FBO operator at our airport for the past 17 years and has in my opinion totally abused that monopoly. But try finding an avenue that allows public input into the FBO selection process and you will quickly discover that there basically isn’t one.
The selection committee does not take public input and the commissioners are only going to allow public comment on second reading of the awarded lease.
Why is this entire process taking place in a “black box”? And why would we even consider Atlantic Aviation as one of the potential bidders, after they have demonstrated that their idea of a “full service” fixed base operator means eliminating all aviation services that are not directly related to highly profitable Jet A fuel sales, for which as a monopoly, they have been charging usurious amounts per gallon.
The county has a document that spells out “Minimum Standards for Aeronautical Activity” at our airport, and Atlantic Aviation has not met the intent nor the letter of those requirements, especially as it relates to aircraft maintenance, in my opinion.
This is a typical comment from a transient pilot: “Flew into KASE recently. High gas prices, poor customer service, long delays, apathetic staff. Aspen is a beautiful airport and community, but this FBO needs to change its service.”