Airport begins search for fixed-base operator


ALAMOSA — With contract negotiations between Mountain View Aeromotive and Alamosa County falling through, the county is in the process of requesting proposals for a new fixed-base operator (FBO) for the general aviation portion of San Luis Valley Regional Airport. During their meeting on Thursday the airport's advisory board members looked over a draft Request for Proposals (RFP) in order to start accepting bids from other companies.

According to the RFP draft, the FBO should have $1 million minimum in general liability insurance and one person on site seven days a week from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. That person will provide services to noncommercial pilots using the airport such as plane fueling, maintenance and tie-down service. The FBO will also handle preparing rented vehicles or lending a courtesy car for pilot use.

"The biggest thing is to provide customer service to the operators that are landing," said SLV Regional Airport Manager Dustin Allinger.

Optional services that an FBO could provide include avionics repair, long-term parking, a conference room and lounge and the availability of food and drinks for pilots.

Mountain View Aeromotive will manage the services until July and if the company doesn't bid or isn't selected as the new FBO then the county will hire an insured fuel service provider to bridge the gap. Whichever company chosen will start with a three-year contract.

Since it is a draft the deadline is subject to change but will likely be around the end of June and the board will conduct interviews in July. Allinger will post the final draft of the approved RFP online at a later date.

With the status of the FBO in flux, Mark Colman took the opportunity to present a proposal to purchase the hangar, instead of lease, that houses his business Depot Avionics, Inc. and then lease the land. The company repairs and installs electronic plane equipment and Colman said it is normal in the industry to own the building while leasing the land.

Colman said he could lease the hangar but he would rather purchase it to have equity and the ability to maintain the structure himself.

"The hangar has issues," Colman. "The door needs work, the roof needs work. It's leaking and I can't work on electronics when there's an inch of water on the floor.

"I've been here for 20 years. No one has fixed anything on that building except for when the door fell down and locked one of my customer's airplanes in there for a month."

The board made a motion to recommend his proposal to the county commissioners on the condition that additional information, such as a property management plan and list of services, would be provided. All voted in favor but Michael Rohr abstained, wanting the information documented before the recommendation.

"I would like to see all of that so we have a decent recommendation," Rohr said. "Stuff like that needs to be in black and white."

Colman will likely present to the commissioners during their next meeting on May 23.

"It seems to be normal procedure for him to purchase," said board member Jed Ellithorpe. "I think it's for the county's benefit to not have to worry about that piece of the airport."