PrivateSky Sues Landlord, Claiming Unfair Competition

 - August 18, 2011, 10:30 AM

Florida FBO and MRO provider PrivateSky Aviation has filed a lawsuit against its Southwest Florida International Airport landlord, the Lee County Port Authority (LCPA), alleging the agency has used government grants improperly to fund the construction of a competing FBO at nearby Page Field, a general aviation airport also operated by the LCPA. The LCPA has operated an FBO at the Fort Myers airport since 1996, and its new, $16 million Page Field Aviation Center is scheduled to open late next week. According to PrivateSky chairman and CEO Vincent Wolanin, the grant money–listed by the LCPA as a $169,380 FAA grant and $7.83 million from the Florida DOT–will allow the new FBO to operate with little to no debt service on the construction and enable it to set its prices accordingly. Wolanin believes that advantage, coupled with the revenue percentage that PrivateSky must pay LCPA according to its contract, will allow the new LCPA-operated facility to undercut his prices at RSW. Due to the pending litigation, LCPA would not comment. The case has attracted the attention of NATA, which stated that it is concerned about the rising trend of local government landlords using federal and state grant funding to subsidize competition with existing tenants.