Facing a Part 13 complaint, the Orange County, California board of supervisors is planning to revisit its decision to switch one of the FBO leaseholds at Santa Ana John Wayne Airport (SNA) from Signature Flight Support to ACI Jet on February 28. The board originally had scheduled a vote to reaffirm that decision on February 14, but pushed off further discussion until February 28 as it consults with legal counsel.
Signature had filed a protest with the county, urging it to re-evaluate the decision and informed the county during the February 14 board meeting that it had filed a formal Part 13 complaint with the FAA. Attorneys for Signature claim the board violated its grant assurance agreements by not following proper bidding procedures in the award of the FBO leasehold. Signature further asked for an investigation by the U.S. Department of Transportation Inspector General, the attorneys said, calling the board’s process flawed. After a cursory look at the protest, Orange County counsel advised that the complaint is “without merit,” but supervisors opted to take a more in-depth look.
Signature employees and tenants also appeared at yesterday’s board meeting, appealing for a re-evaluation. Tenants reiterated their concerns about their viability under a switch, while employees emphasized the disruption the switch would make. They also raised safety concerns involved in such a transition.
But ACI Jet CEO William Borgsmiller appeared to assure that the California-based FBO is well versed in aircraft handling and taking steps to ensure a smooth transition. He noted that ACI Jet has placed $1.5 million in new equipment on order and is seeking all the necessary permits.