RIAC: FAA does not require FBO
The following interview was conducted via email between Block Island Times editor Lars Trodson and Alan Andrade, Senior Vice President, Chief Operating Officer for Rhode Island Airport Corporation. It has been slightly edited from the original exchange for clarity.
Block Island Times: It is my understanding that FlightLevel Aviation ceased being the Block Island Airport’s FBO on Oct. 1. Is that correct?
A: We wanted FBO services at all of our GA airports and advertised in April 2018 for proposals. We did not receive any proposals for services at Block Island Airport. From there we gathered there is no demand for services. FlightLevel proposed to provide FBO services at the other four GA airports, and we pushed them to entertain providing services at Block Island last Summer. FlightLevel agreed to provide services through October, but the market did not provide the demand for the man hours and administrative support required to provide these services on an ongoing basis. The need for FBO services at an airport is warranted by the level of activity. There are several months at Block Island where the activity level does not warrant FBO services.
BIT: Had the contract between FlightLevel and RIAC expired on that date? If not, can you tell me the reason or reasons as to why FlightLevel was no longer the FBO at Block Island as of Oct. 1?
A: Flight Level provided these services last summer at Block Island at the request of RIAC, and as stated above the market did not provide the demand to support their services.
BIT: It is my understanding that FlightLevel is still working as FBO at four other state airports: Quonset, North Central, Newport and Westerly. Is this correct?
BIT: In terms of profitability, it seems to be something of a vicious circle at Block Island, as there is a sign on the counter at the Block Island Airport saying that landing fees are not being collected. Is it true that landing fees have not been collected since Oct. 1?
A: With the exception of New England Airlines, there is negligible activity at Block Island Airport post-summer. It would require much more activity to warrant a dedicated full service FBO service provider.
BIT: Is there any specific reason as to why Block Island Airport can not implement new revenue streams, such as fuel sales, to make it more profitable?
A: The RFP allows proposers to offer additional revenue generating activities.
BIT: Are there any safety concerns that RIAC has that could be directly related to the Block Island Airport not having an FBO in place for the past two months?
A: It is not uncommon for small general aviation airports to not have FBO services. The need for FBO services is based on market demand. Since the market did not see a demand to warrant an FBO, we are trying to find another way to provide some services through potential interest from the local community with the current RFP. We hope that this midterm solution in the long run would yield a full service FBO; however, we cannot predict exactly when that would happen.
BIT: Does RIAC have a timeframe in place to hire another FBO for the Block Island Airport?
A: Proposals to provide airport services are due on Friday, Dec. 28. Based on the responses, we will work to put a new service provider in place as soon as possible.