Operator must do better by Dutchess County Airport

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Dutchess County Airport is second busiest General Aviation (GA) airport in New York State, logging approximately 75,000 aircraft landings and take offs each year, including corporate aviation, charter operators, recreational fliers and business aircraft owners.  The airport brings Dutchess County over 60 million dollars in economic activity each year

Six months ago, the county sought a partner who could help us move forward with our efforts to increase the economic benefit of the Airport. The County contracted with Flight Level Aviation in that regard.  Since then, fuel prices have risen despite their promise to keep them low and knowing very well fuel costs affect the airports viability. Last month, the County Legislature approved a proposal by the County Executive and FlightLevel Aviation (the new fixed base operator) to reduce their hours.

While I agree that there is “insufficient activity after 8pm” at the airport – there will never be an increase in activity after 8pm unless the FBO is open to accept aircraft. This is a self-defeating proposal.  I was, however, willing to compromise with having the FBO close early during the winter months only, and if they had a problem in the spring, summer or fall, they could come back to us so we can discuss it further.  That amendment failed.

FlightLevel Aviation was brought here to improve the airport and the services offered.  By saying that in the past there has been little traffic after a certain hour – they are pretty much offering only to maintain the status quo or less.   Reducing the total number of hours that Dutchess County Airport’s FBO is open to both based and transient clients is inconsistent with the County’s stated objectives and asking operators to pay for off-hours services after 7:00 pm will make KPOU less competitive and desirable relative to other local airports for business aviation operators.

The county executive said if there’s an increase in demand, FlightLevel will make the necessary changes to meet those needs. How will we ever know if that demand increases, when the FBO is closed and aircraft avoid our airport?

I understand having FlightLevel Aviation is important to the success of the airport.  However, they signed a contract – in which they clearly knew what the circumstances were – and now so soon trying to change it. They raised the fuel prices and now their changing their hours.  Changes in fuel prices have everything to do with this resolution because it has to do with change no one expected.  What will they change next? Reducing the minimum operating standards is not something I feel is in the best long term interest of the airport.  This sets a bad precedent.

 

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