A bid process is under way to help choose what company will handle fuel, plane maintenance and other basic services at Smith Field Airport.
Airports often have a Fixed Base Operator (FBO), which is a company hired to handle basic operations at the airport. The contract for Smith Field Air Service, the current FBO at the small airport on West Ludwig Road, expires in January.
Now that the Fort Wayne/Allen County Airport Authority controls Smith Field, the board is using a competitive bidding process to choose an FBO. Under terms of the current contract, the airport pays locally-based Smith Field Air Service a minimum $3,000 per month and maximum $5,500 per month for its services, said Rick McElroy, airports treasurer.
Smith Field has undergone a transformation since the airport board voted in April to keep the north-side airport open indefinitely and under its control. In August, the board hired Tim O?Donnell as Smith Field?s first-ever supervisor.
Tory Richardson, executive director of airports, said there has been a good working relationship with Smith Field Air Service under what has always been considered a temporary arrangement. Now, the airport board is ready to explore its options.
?The Fixed Base Operator is an integral part of any airport,? Richardson said.
Dan Reed, Smith Field Air Service?s general manager, said the company intends to submit a bid to retain the job. He said it employs about 15 people to provide services including fueling, maintenance and maintaining the flight-school program at the airport.
?We came over here with a goal to make Smith Field the best airport it could be,? Reed said. ?Yes, it has been some uncertain times, but we have accomplished what we want to do.?
O?Donnell works alongside Smith Field Air Service?s workers every day.
?I am going to be looking for a proposal that addresses customer service, can grow with the airport and market the airport,? he said.
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Smith Field Air Service, an outside company, submitted the only bid to become the Fixed Base Operator (FBO) at the small airport on Ludwig Road.
Tim ODonnell said via cell phone Friday he has done his research and plans to listen to current customers and let the airport take shape.
One of the people most responsible for saving Smith Field from closure believes a change in management is needed if the small north-side airport is to remain open permanently.
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