Ohio Airport To Issue RFP for Lone FBO

 - December 21, 2020, 1:32 PM
Ohio's Middletown Regional Airport is looking to award a new longer-term lease for its sole FBO (right, center) after assigning a stop-gap six-month contract. The facility had been run by the city since January., after the previous operator's lease was allowed to expire. (Photo: City of Middletown, Ohio)

Ohio’s Middletown Regional Airport/Hook Field (MWO) has issued a six-month lease for the operation of its lone FBO to Safe Skies, an aviation business located on the airport. The airport had been operating the FBO since January after it allowed former operator Start Aviation’s lease to expire without renewal.

According to interim airport manager Matt Eisenbraun, who also serves as the city of Middletown’s assistant economic development director, it had received customer complaints stating that Start’s line service workers were too involved serving its skydiving business instead of tending to general aviation customers. As a result, the airport said it is looking to attract another, more customer service-oriented provider.

“We expect to publish a request for proposals by no later than March 1, 2021, with an award by May 1 and contract services to commence June 1, 2021,” city manager Jim Palenick told AIN. “We hope to enter into a five-year contract, with possible opportunity for renewal thereafter.”

Start Aviation, in the meantime, has filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District Of Ohio, Western Division, against the city, Eisenbraun, and former airport manager Daniel Dickten, arguing among other issues, that the city failed to live up to its initial lease agreement with the company in providing the specified hangar and office space for its skydiving business. According to the filing, after Start took over the operation of the FBO, it instead leased the second floor of the FBO terminal to house its skydiving operation, from which the city is now trying to remove it. The company also disputed the claims made by Eisenbraun regarding Start's workers being too occupied by the skydiving operation, saying they were part of a wider plan to oust Start from the airport entirely.

The FBO terminal, centrally located on the south side of MWO’s 6,100-foot runway, includes a pilot lounge and snooze room, as well as showers. While the FBO does not have any hangars of its own, the airport owns a 30,000-sq-ft hangar with 30-foot high doors for community aircraft storage.