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Fri, May 25, 2012

FAA Tells Aspen Airport FBO's Can't Be Arbitrarily Denied

New Businesses Must Be Accommodated If Space And Market Conditions Are Favorable

It's a pretty fair bet that large sums of federal grant money are going to come with strings attached, a fact that Aspen, CO, aviation officials found out in meetings this week with the FAA.

In hearings Tuesday about an updated airport master plan, Aspen county commissioners heard from John Bauer, the manager of the Denver Airports District Office for the FAA, who said that if space was available and market conditions were favorable, the airport authority could not arbitrarily say "no" to a company wishing to establish a second, or even a third FBO at Aspen-Pitken County Airport (KASE). The Aspen Times reports that Bauer said that's because the approximately $64 million the airport has received in federal grants over the years comes with "grant assurances" which require the airport to meet FAA requirements. The only other option is to give the money back.

Currently, Atlantic Aviation is the sole FBO at KASE. But interest from other companies looking at setting up shop in Aspen are one of the drivers of the master plan update. The draft master plan under consideration alternatives which make allowances for a second FBO to be built at the airport. Bauer told the county commission that a "justifiable reason" had to be presented to preclude a second FBO from being built, and "we don't want 200,000 square feet of hangar space on the west side" of the airport is not justification enough. Bauer said that the airport would have to provide proof that what was planned was "out of character with Aspen and the airport." He also said the commission could not just take development of that part of the airport out of consideration.

Bauer said denying a second FBO an opportunity to do business at the airport could lead to a complaint about exclusive rights coming to the agency, and could jeopardize future airport funding.

The draft master plan for Aspen Airport is expected to be finalized by August. It must then be approved by the FAA.

FMI: www.faa.gov, www.aspenpitkin.com

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