July 10, 2008

Montgomery, Ala.-Area Airport Authority Approves Second Service Provider

By Cosby Woodruff, Montgomery Advertiser, Ala.

Jul. 9--Montgomery Regional Airport officials can begin negotiating with a company that wants to build a second fixed base of operations after the airport's board approved the plan Tuesday, although airport officials openly questioned whether it has a chance of success.

Jay Taffet, who represents Regency Air Center, wants to build a center on a parcel of land near the main runway at Montgomery's airport.

If he and airport executive director Phil Perry can work out contract details, it will provide fuel and other ground services to private planes at the airport.

Montgomery Aviation already provides those services at the airport, but Taffet believes he can grow both his business and airport traffic.

Members of the Montgomery Regional Airport Authority openly doubted Taffet's projections at the board's monthly meeting Tuesday, but still voted 8-0 to allow him to try.

Jim Ridling said he was concerned Taffet's business could end up being bad for the airport, but he said he didn't think it was the board's place to deny him the right to try.

Taffet largely brushed off the predictions of failure.

"It doesn't concern me in the least," he said. "Montgomery is growing in the private air market."

Taffet appeared before the board or one of its committee's for the fifth time Tuesday. It was the first time the board took any action. He said he was relieved to have the vote behind him.

"I am excited," he said. "It is going to be a good thing for the airport."

Perry predicted Taffet would have no problem negotiating an agreement. Taffet was part of a group that previously wanted to build a similar business on a different parcel of land.

Investors on that deal backed out at the last minute, but Perry said the contract would provide a framework for his negotiations with Taffet.

"I think what we expect from him, in dollars and cents and other things, will be fairly easy to work out," Perry said.

Perry said he would insist that the lease require the center to be used by an aviation company. If Regency fails, he predicted the airport and the building's investors could find a replacement tenant quickly.

The new center was the only action item on the board's agenda Tuesday, but the members heard reports on plans to rework the parking lot, hire a marketing director and attract new air service.

Jerry Kyser, head of the airport's marketing committee, said the airport and others have made little progress in attracting a carrier to Montgomery.

"We don't have a lot of positives to report," he said. "We don't want to roll over and do nothing."


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