Well here it is... and it's a matter of public record. $140,000 has been paid to Big Communications, the Birmingham, Alabama advertising firm hired by the airport to suggest the facility be called "Chattanooga Airport" in the future. Perhaps the Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport Authority's President, Mr. Landguth, and it's board of Commissioners could have resourced it's existing public relations firm that is under contract (Waterhouse Public Relations, largest in TN Valley) to offer new 'branding' initiatives.
...continued from above
The full text of a press release issued by TAC Air reads as follows:
Today TAC Air, a division of Truman Arnold Companies, filed a Part 16 Complaint against the Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport Authority (CMAA) with the Office of the Chief Counsel, of the Federal Aviation Administration. TAC Air held off filing this Complaint in the hope that the CMAA would act in good faith to create a more level playing field and provide a mechanism for the two FBOs to compete based on free market principles, arm's length contracts, and pricing determined by costs and expenses that an FBO would ordinarily incur on a day-to-day basis.
The issues raised in the Part 16 Complaint are based on certain Assurances agreed to by the CMAA in return for federal funding ("Grant Assurances"), which include Assurance 22(g) which states: "In the event that the Sponsor exercises any of the rights and privileges referred to in this assurance, the services involved will be provided on the same conditions as would apply to the furnishing of such services by commercial service providers under
In addition, TAC Air has raised the issue of whether the CMAA will follow its own dictate in its Minimum Standards which provides that "(A)ll property which is developed as a result of investment by the Airport Authority will be leased in order to provide a reasonable rate of return for the public monies invested...."
These issues are complex and it is expected that the FAA will carefully evaluate both TAC Air's and the CMAA's positions in this matter and issue a fair and equitable decision.
TAC Air is disappointed that the CMAA would not address this matter without FAA intervention, but believes the Part 16 Complaint will be a valuable process for both Chattanooga and the entire aviation industry. TAC Air remains a strong supporter of Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport , the Airport's based aircraft, airlines and the flying public.
Just released thru another news source… The Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport Authority’s decision to subsidize a new general aviation facility managed by Wilson Air with $5 million in taxpayer funds violates CMAA’s agreement with federal officials regarding use of grant money obtained by the local agency, a competitor of the government-subsidized business said in a complaint filed with the Federal Aviation Administration.
Officials at TAC Air, a division of Truman Arnold Companies, said they had hoped it would be possible to work out an agreement with the airport which would allow it to compete “on a more level playing field” with the new company, but they were unable to do so. “At a time when government should be keenly focused on using limited funds for the highest and best use, the CMAA spent approximately $5 million to duplicate services already being provided by the private sector,” TAC Air vice president and chief operating officer Christian Sasfai said. “This money could have been spent on safety initiatives or other airport infrastructure that would have benefitted the traveling public.”
Further, the TAC official contended, the $5 million already invested is not the only taxpayer money that will be spent on the Wilson Air-managed business since “. . . beyond the initial construction and start-up costs, the CMAA will have the added burden of funding operating losses incurred by the FBO.”
The airport authority now predicts that the new business will sustain a $250,000 operating loss in its first year of operation, "a total that has grown significantly from the time the project was announced to grand opening,” TAC representatives said.
TAC Air – which was recently selected for the second time by readers of Professional Pilot magazine as the “Best Large FBO Chain” – intends to continue providing top quality service to general aviation customers in this area, company officials said.
“TAC Air has invested millions of dollars in Chattanooga,” vice president Sasfai said. “Our goal has always been to provide quick turns, competitive prices and award-winning service for the general aviation customer. However, we’ve also kept a focus on our team that is simply one of the best in the nation.”
“We are committed to protecting the jobs of 30 Chattanoogans, our customer base and our capital investment,” he vowed.
I will say again that this article is much like the article that appeared in Sundays business section of the Times Free Press… a valiant attempt by the Airport Authority’s public relations division (using their connections with the Times Free Press thru Waterhouse Public Relations) to continue creating the appearance of separation from this waste of taxpayer’s (grant) money. The ‘news’ today in this article, with further investigation, reveals that this move of operations by Crystal Air has been in process for awhile. While Mr. Newman, Crystal’s director of operations, said Wilson offers “a better front-door image.” It is again the ‘back-door’ politics of the Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport Authority and its Board of Commissioners involved in this move that needs to be revealed. Transparency… again, keep in mind the ‘new’ FBO is owned by the Airport Authority and all aircraft storage lease agreements are with the CMAA (Government Corporation), not the Wilson management group. Let’s connect some of these dots. Conversations with people in the local medical community indicate the aircraft that Crystal uses is owned by a local physician. This physician was recently the Director of Maternal-Fetal Medicine at the University of Tennessee Medical Center in Knoxville and is still an associate professor in this same Graduate Department. The Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport Authority’s Board of Commissioners Vice-Chairperson is Mr. Jim Hall. Mr. Hall is currently a Trustee of the University of Tennessee with great influence and recommendation authority for promotions and directorships at the University. Transparency… again, the first (other) hangar customer referenced in Friday’s Times Free Press article is Mr. Jim Berry of Republic Parking. Republic Parking has the exclusive contract to manage all revenue generating public vehicle parking spaces at the Chattanooga airport. This ‘parking’ contract and future renewals are approved by the Airport Authority’s Board of Commissioners. Mr. Berry is a current board member of the TN Aeronautical Commission. This is the same State Government Commission that has and will approve future taxpayer (grant) money for ongoing and additional projects, like the CMAA’s FBO, at this airport. Additional note for thought, Airport Authority Vice-Chairperson, Mr. Jim Hall and Mr. Berry have been close friends for many years. Love those Sunshine Laws in the South. As Gilda Radner of SNL back in the ‘70s used to say “It’s always somethin’.”
Well this article today certainly looks to be an aggressive attempt by the Chattanooga Metro Airport Authority’s contracted public relations division (Waterhouse Public Relations, largest agency in Tennessee Valley) using their connections with the Times Free Press to create the appearance of separation in this waste of taxpayer’s (grant) money. This article, in the second paragraph states “Wilson, whose Memphis based business is a new fixed based operator at the Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport.” This is not the case! The Airport Authority is the fixed based operator and Wilson is the contracted manager of daily activity. The building, furniture, aircraft servicing equipment, maintenance of facilities and all aircraft contractual agreements for storage space with ‘new’ customers, are with the Chattanooga Metro Airport Authority. The 20+ page lease agreement for aircraft storage space does not even have Wilson’s name on the document. The Airport Authority will be responsible for all expenses and receive all revenues. Mr. Landguth will give an account to the airport’s board of commissioners monthly. Wilson will receive a monthly contract payment from the Airport Authority plus a percent of revenues above the budget for the Authority’s FBO. The decision to proceed with operating this government infringement on the existing private business at the airport was approved by the airport’s board of commissioners last year. Newton & Associates of NC presented the recommendation on behalf of the Authorities President, Mr. Landguth.
An additional note for transparency… the Chattanooga Airport Authority currently receives a monthly leasehold payment from TAC Air that includes 2% of gross revenues, $0.13 flowage fee (highest in TN) on every gallon of fuel distributed by the private company and an ability to audit their accounting records at least once a year. The CMAA (Government Corporation) is the landlord competing against its tenant and the tenant (TAC Air) is required to subsidize the effort. This goes against everything our country has been founded upon.