The Fayette Citizen-News Page

Wednesday, February 4, 2004

Fuel deal out, but Airport Authority wants to deal with company


Falcon Field’s fuel operation will not be used as a bargaining tool to lure a maintenance and avionics facility to the airport, the Peachtree City Airport Authority has decided.

The authority, however, still wants to work with officials from Chippewa Aerospace to figure how else they can land the Myrtle Beach company that is relocating to expand its business. If the company wants to operate its own fuel farm, it can do so, authority officials noted.

Chippewa is interested in purchasing the Hunting facility, which is adjacent to Falcon Field and owned by Hunting Aviation, a company based in England. The building has frontage on Dividend Drive and has been vacant for over five years; it previously housed the Stephens company

At a special called meeting Monday night, the authority voted to wait six months before considering any proposals to lease the FBO. That allows the authority time to get a new airport manager and authority member on board.

Chippewa officials have said leasing the FBO was not a “make or break” decision that would drastically affect whether or not it relocated at Falcon Field, said Airport Authority Chairwoman Cathy Nelmes.

Chippewa Aerospace company performs aircraft maintenance, avionics, modifications and interior refurbishment services and would be a welcome addition to the airport, Nelmes said.

“It would be tremendous to have someone in that facility,” Nelmes said Tuesday morning, adding that Chippewa would service larger aircraft than is currently serviced by Gardner Aviation Specialists, which also does avionics work and opened in December.

“Their businesses kind of complement each other,” Nelmes said.

The FBO is currently operated by the authority as a source of income for operational expenses. Aside from $120,000 a year in hotel-motel tax revenue, the authority’s only other significant income is from hangar leases and through-the-fence airport access fees.

During the meeting, Nelmes said some Falcon Field tenants were concerned about the level of service dropping off and fuel prices going up if the fuel operation were to be leased to a private company.

The current level of refueling service offered by the Falcon Field staff is exceptional, said pilot Bob Patterson, a former authority member.

“They treat the Cessna 172 guy just like the Lear Jet that comes in here,” Patterson said.

Mayor Steve Brown urged the authority to consider any proposal from Chippewa regarding the FBO. Brown also said he thought the authority didn’t make money off fuel sales, but he was told that was not the case.

Nelmes said Tuesday that fuel sales for the past three months have beat projections despite the fact that winter is traditionally a “down time” for fuel sales.

What do you think of this story?
Click here to send a message to the editor.