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State says Morse Airport will not close

February 27, 2011
NEAL P. GOSWAMI
Staff Writer
BENNINGTON — The William H. Morse State Airport will remain open for private aviation, even if the company that currently manages on-site operations cancels its contract with the state, officials said Friday.

The Morse airport is now managed by Blue Hill Aviation, a company owned by David Corey, who also owns AirNow, a commercial air freight company based out of the airport that shut down operations Friday.

Corey said Thursday that the two companies are separate entities. Blue Hill Aviation will continue to manage the airport for general aviation. The long-term future of Blue Hill Aviation’s contract with the Vermont Agency of Transportation Aviation Program will be examined, Corey said.

Jason Owen, airport project manager in the AOT’s Aviation Program, said Corey has not informed the state that he wants to terminate the contract.

“We’ve had no information that Blue Hill is going to pack up or leave or anything like that,” Owen said. “As far as we know it’s steady-as-she-goes at the moment.”

If Blue Hill provides the 30-day notice required to terminate the contract, the state will seek a new management team, known as a fixed-base operator, said Guy Rouelle, an operations specialist in the state Aviation Program. However, “there will never be any lapse in services or access to the airport,” Rouelle said.

If needed, the state will put out a request for proposals to manage the airport, according

to Owen. A new FBO would be responsible for ordering and dispensing aviation fuel. Some also provide aircraft maintenance and aircraft rentals.Owen said FBOs are not often replaced, and it could take some time to find a suitable replacement if needed. “If there’s nobody waiting in the wings to take the business over it might not be that easy,” he said.

The management, operations and maintenance of the airport will be covered by AOT staff if there is a gap between Blue Hill and a replacement, Rouelle said.

Owen said the state usually receives about 3 percent of revenues generated by FBOs through the lease agreements. Enough revenue is raised “so that they can hopefully make a go of it,” he said.

Contact Neal P. Goswami at ngoswami@benningtonbanner.com

 

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