Fixed base operator to return to B.I. Airport

Thu, 03/14/2019 - 7:45pm

Sen. Susan Sosnowski has announced that, after meeting with representatives of the Rhode Island Airport Corporation, they have agreed to start providing aviation services at the Block Island Airport on April 1 from the same vendor currently providing such services at Rhode Island’s four other general aviation airports.

According to a press release issued by the State House, “In July 2018, RIAC awarded a bid for aviation support services to FlightLevel Rhode Island, LLC. At that time, FlightLevel had submitted a bid to provide aviation support services to North Central, Westerly, Newport and Quonset State Airport, but their proposal did not include Block Island.”

“’After meeting with representatives of RIAC, I’m pleased to report that they have agreed that FlightLevel will begin providing aviation support services at Block Island Airport,’ said Sosnowski. ‘Many of my constituents made this a priority and I appreciate that RIAC was responsive to this request.’”

Sosnowski is a Democrat representing Dist. 37, which includes New Shoreham and South Kingstown.

The press release continued, “On April 1, 2018, FlightLevel will begin posting employees at Block Island Airport who will provide services related to aircraft operator assistance, facility cleaning services, collection of fees and other general public services. These employees will be in addition to a fulltime RIAC employee who currently works at the airport maintaining and overseeing the airfield and terminal.”

“The conversation that occurred in the past few months to get the same vendor at Block Island as the other general aviation airports has created a greater question of what Block Island Airport could and should be from an economic development standpoint,” said Sosnowski. “This is a larger question that will require input from all stakeholders including the general public, island residents, business and tourism leaders, local officials and members of the aviation community.”

Island resident and pilot Henry duPont has been doggedly pursuing RIAC to return a qualified fixed base operator to the Block Island State Airport since it was learned late last year that FlightLevel would not be returning in that capacity.

Upon hearing the news, duPont wrote to The Times: “This will hopefully end the disparate treatment that Block Island has been getting since RIAC signed a contract with FlightLevel Aviation to provide FBO Services at each of the other State General Aviation Airports, but excluding Block Island, last July.  The Block Island State Airport Stakeholders’ Group will monitor the new prospective RIAC /FlightLevel Aviation Block Island Agreement to make sure that it is not substantially different with regards to services offered at the other R.I. State Airports,” duPont wrote. “Special thanks to the New Shoreham Town Council for recognizing the issue back in December and especially to Senator Susan Sosnowski and her staff for working hard to resolve it.”

“Again, I appreciate RIAC’s responsiveness in the short term and I look forward to working with them and town officials on the broader conversation. The airport is a lifeline to the island and if there are ways to spur economic development opportunities they should be explored,” said Sosnowski. “This process must balance those opportunities with all stakeholders and we need to recognize at the beginning of this conversation that not all general aviation airports are created equal.”