San Bernardino airport leaders take more control over jet fuel sales
SAN BERNARDINO – Officials on Friday announced new arrangements to sell jet fuel at San Bernardino International Airport without having to rely upon a company with which airport leaders have been feuding in recent weeks.
The company, SBD Aircraft Services, still has the right to sell fuel at the airport as long as the company has the necessary cash and equipment.
The significance of the airport officials’ announcement, interim SBIA chief A.J. Wilson said, is that the airport can sell jet fuel through an affiliated nonprofit without having to count upon the embattled company when pilots need fuel.
“From my point of view, it’s really big,” he said, “because now we can guarantee quality fuel service regardless of what SBD Aircraft Services does, and if they can start providing quality fuel service, I’m fine with that. There will be alternatives at the airport.”
The announcement is the latest move in airport leaders’ recent attempts to distance themselves from businessman Scot Spencer, who has leadership positions at several companies, including SBD Aircraft Services, that do business with the airport.
Relations between airport leaders and Spencer have been strained since the FBI raided airport offices last year. The bureau is investigating allegations of criminal conspiracy, bribery, mail and wire fraud and money laundering.
The airport’s previous chief executive, Donald Rogers, resigned after the FBI raid. Wilson replaced him.
SBD Aircraft Services spokesman Coby King said Friday that Spencer is not giving up on his plans to do business at the airport.
“We’re going to do whatever we need to do to protect our interests,” King said.
The specifics of the fuel dispute between the airport and Spencer’s firm stem from a Feb. 1 incident when the company could not provide the full amount of fuel initially ordered by the pilot of a 727 jet.
Wilson responded by moving to terminate SBD Aircraft Services’ ability to sell fuel or access the airport’s fuel tanks.
A San Bernardino judge upheld Wilson’s move. Spencer’s side has filed an appeal.
Spencer’s business interests sold fuel at the airport’s Million Air terminal for private jets. The Texas-based Million Air Interlink, however, canceled its franchise agreement with another Spencer-affiliated company, SBD Properties, last last month in the wake of the court ruling in favor of airport officials.
The upscale Million Air facility had been the airport’s most high-profile amenity. The airport, formerly Norton Air Force Base, has yet to secure a deal with a passenger airline.
Under current conditions, Spencer can make arrangements to sell fuel or provide other services to jets, at least until March 23.
His agreements with airport officials require him to find another national company to replace Million Air Interlink by that deadline.
In the meantime, Million Air sister company REW Investments is assisting the Airport Authority’s nonprofit arm to sell fuel.
King expressed confidence that Spencer will find a replacement for Million Air.
“I’m pretty sure we plan to be affiliated within 30 days,” King said. “You can write that.”