Thursday, November 27, 2014

City readies runway for agreement with airport managers

By DOUG CARDER, Herald Senior Writer | 8/2/2013

Negotiations between the City of Ottawa and the prospective fixed-based operator of the Ottawa Municipal Airport are about to take wing.

Ottawa city commissioners this week authorized Richard Nienstedt, city manager, and Bob Bezek, city attorney, to begin negotiations with a management company being formed by Hawkeye Helicopter LLC, 401 S. Main St., Ottawa, to serve as the fixed-based operator of the airport, 2178 Montana Road.

Negotiations between the City of Ottawa and the prospective fixed-based operator of the Ottawa Municipal Airport are about to take wing.

Ottawa city commissioners this week authorized Richard Nienstedt, city manager, and Bob Bezek, city attorney, to begin negotiations with a management company being formed by Hawkeye Helicopter LLC, 401 S. Main St., Ottawa, to serve as the fixed-based operator of the airport, 2178 Montana Road.

Cal Lantis, who represented the Ottawa Airport Advisory Board at the city commission’s study session Monday, said the advisory board voted unanimously July 22 to recommend the commission instruct the city manager and city attorney to begin negotiations with J.D. Scott, owner of Hawkeye Helicopter, and his associates.

Hawkeye Helicopter would not be the fixed-based operator, but would be organizing a new airport management company to serve as operator, according to Hawkeye’s submitted proposal to the City of Ottawa.

“Hawkeye Helicopter, LLC would propose to create a subsidiary company, Hawkeye Airport & Aviation Services, LLC to conduct all business related to this endeavor,” Craig Chaney, Hawkeye’s business development manager, said in the company’s proposal.

Linda Reed, city commissioner, asked Lantis if Hawkeye was currently serving as fixed-based operator of other airports.

“No, but the person who would be in charge has had experience as an FBO in Topeka,” Lantis, who also served on the advisory board’s fixed-based operator selection committee, said.

The person Lantis was referring to is David Brecheisen, Hawkeye Helicopter’s chief mechanic, who would serve as airport manager, according to Hawkeye’s proposal. Brecheisen would oversee all aspects of overall airport operations and of the FBO, the proposal said. Brecheisen has 21 years of experience in airport operations as a FBO, according to the proposal.

Hawkeye’s Chaney would be assistant airport manager, the proposal said.

City commissioners accepted the advisory board’s recommendation and instructed Nienstedt and Bezek, who were both at the study session Monday, to enter into negotiations, which would spell out the length and terms of the contract between the city and the new management company.

Lantis told commissioners the advisory board would prefer to enter into a short-term agreement with the new management company, with an option for renewal for a longer period, to ensure both parties were satisfied with the arrangement before entering into a long-term relationship.

Nienstedt and Bezek did not offer a date for completing the negotiations, but Nienstedt said he thought the process could be completed in a fairly short time frame. Once the terms of the contract are negotiated, Nienstedt said the proposed contract would go back to the advisory board, which would either recommend changes or endorse the contract and forward it to the city commission for final approval.

In its proposal, Hawkeye Helicopter said flying lessons and rental aircraft are two amenities the prospective fixed-based operator could bring to Ottawa Municipal Airport.

Hawkeye Helicopter, established in 1995, has a fleet of 18 aircraft operating in 28 states under the direction of Scott, according to the company. While its main business is powerline and pipeline patrol, Hawkeye Helicopter is a nationally recognized company that also offers aerial photography, the company said.

The city has been looking for a permanent fixed-base operator to succeed Chuck LeMaster, 80, who resigned in mid-December 2012.

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