Situation at local airport needs long-term solution

The city of Fairmont has a long list of complaints about the company – Five Lakes Aviation – it has under contract to operate the local airport. If this were not a contractual arrangement, the city would long ago have fired the person who is supposed to make the airport a well-run and well-maintained facility. As it is, the city wants the list addressed by June 15. After which, the city may decide to end the contract and look for a new fixed base operator, depending on the results. Citizens should note that it is possible ending the relationship could result in a legal battle. That’s the city’s current pickle.

In the long run, it seems clear that a new firm is needed to operate the airport. The list of complaints about Five Lakes Aviation is not just eye-opening, it is disturbing. The allegations include improper burning on site, running another business out of the airport, sending out incorrect invoices, not adhering to the required hours of business, employing an inadequate workforce and not providing proof of insurance, among others.

We believe the city should make a clean break with Five Lakes Aviation. The sooner the better, although we understand that the city does not want to jeopardize tax dollars by moving too rashly. A fresh start with a new fixed base operator and/or airport maintenance firm clearly has merit. The search may take some time and create an interim hardship. But it is clearly not acceptable for the city to stay on the path it has been on. The airport is one gateway into Fairmont, and it should always be a good experience for those using it.