The Valley County Airport Commission has considered its options and recommended that the county assume management and services at Glasgow International Airport/Wokal Field with county employees, following the announcement by Choice Aviation that the company will terminate management and fixed base operator (FBO) services on Dec. 22.
The recommendation was voted on at an Airport Commission meeting on Monday and accepted by the county commissioners on Tuesday.
“It will be our job to support them in their endeavor,” said Valley County Commissioner Dave Pippin.
The airport would be set up as an enterprise fund, much like the city water plant and the county landfill. The Airport Commission voted to commit to a new fuel farm and to build a new commercial hangar. The present underground fuel tanks are functional but reaching the end of their useful life. New tanks are mounted aboveground.
The Airport Commission also voted 3-1 to voluntarily surrender the airport’s Part 139 Certification, which the FAA issues after compliance with a list of safety requirements. Part 139 Certification is required for an airport that has regular scheduled service by aircraft that can carry 10 or more passengers. Cape Air, the new Essential Air Service carrier that will start service to Glasgow and four other eastern Montana cities on Dec. 10, uses nine-passenger Cessna 402 aircraft.
The county commissioners modified one part of the Airport Commission’s recommendation to send a letter to Choice Aviation accepting its letter of termination of services and asking Choice Aviation the cost of purchasing their fueling equipment and other inventory. The county commissioners will have the letter approved first by the county attorney.
Finally, the policy manual will be updated to reflect new hangar fees. A consumer lease will cost $.10 times the square footage of the hangar times 1.5 (square footage x 1.5 x $.10.) Commercial leases will be $.12 times the square footage of the hangar times 1.5 (square footage x 1.5 x $.12.)
At a public meeting held by the Airport Commission on Oct. 21, Chairman Kristie Brabeck described three options to keep the airport open. One is to have the county run it. The second is to contract with another FBO and airport manger. The third is a mixture of the two, for the county to hire an airport manager and contract for an FBO.
The manager duties at the airport involve general supervision of the airport and staying in compliance with the provisions of the airport’s FAA operation certificate. The manager is responsible for airport safety items and lights, does maintenance of the airport and terminal, plows snow from the runways and mows the grass, among other things. Someone is required to be available or on call 24 hours a day for emergency calls or snow removal. The current contract pays Choice Aviation $31,500 a year for management duties.
Under the FBO contract, the operator leases airport property from the Airport Commission – the fuel farm, office space, a hangar and fire and maintenance vehicles. The FBO is allowed to sell fuel, operate aircraft servicing facilities, sell aircraft and parts, maintain a repair shop, provide storage space for aircraft and provide charter service and flight training.
The airport owns the fuel farm, two 12,000-gallon underground tanks, but Choice Aviation owns the fuel pump and the two fuel trucks that service larger aircraft.
Choice Aviation currently runs the airport with two full-time and two part-time employees.