Reno Tahoe Airport Authority Plays Politics with GA Tenants

Reno Tahoe Airport Stakeholders Alert! The Airport Authority is attempting to run GA out of KRNO and relocate us to Stead. Please vist our WEB-SITE to learn the issues.

Monday May 10th is a GA work shop with the Airport Trustees at 2:00 in the airport board room located in the commercial terminal.

John Howitt VP Reno Tahoe Aviation Association

Dear Pilot / Aircraft Owner

I am writing you today to let you know of a potential situation that affects all of us as aircraft owners and pilots, and citizens of Washoe County.

Currently there are Three Fixed Base Operators at Reno Tahoe Airport. These FBO’s are businesses who support General Aviation. The FBO’s provide essential services such as fuel, maintenance, parking, and hanger space for aircraft.

Two out of the three FBO’s at Reno Tahoe airport have had their contracts come up for renewal. The Reno Tahoe Airport Authority has offered to renew their lease at an increase of approximately 40 times the rent they currently pay now. Both Jet West and Sierra Air Center have rejected this offer as untenable and now plan to close their facilities. This will result in as many as 120 aircraft leaving the Reno Airport and Washoe County; many aircraft have already left.

Our association members have been told by the Reno Tahoe Airport Authority (RTAA) that they will close the FBO at Jet West and remove the T-Hangers in an effort to expand and relocate cargo facilities and aircraft from the North West portion of the field. Taxi-way Charlie is slated for expansion that will require the removal of the T-hangers at Sierra Air Center.

The RTAA has openly stated that they feel general aviation aircraft under 12,500 lbs is “best suited at the Stead airport” and would like for us to relocate there. The truth is that after the removal of the hangers we will have no place to park our airplanes because the RTAA has no plans to build or offer a Request for proposal for new hangers at KRNO.

Krys Bart, President/CEO of the RTAA stated that they planned to put forth another request for proposal (RFP) to build hangers at Stead, the first attempt as many of you well know fell through. The tenants at Jet West and Sierra Air Center would be offered first right of refusal on those new hangers ahead of those individual that currently are on the list for hangers at Stead.

The Airport Authority (RTAA) is considering a new “First Class FBO” at the corner of Rock and Mill. The RFP has been issued and requires an investment of 50 thousand dollars per acre per year. $50,000.00 x 15.5 acres 25 years = $19,375,000.00 (required improvements) + $250.774.92 x 25 years $6,269.373 (per year paid directly to the airport authority for the lease of the land) for a grand total of $25,644,373 for a 25 year lease or $1,025,774.92 per year.

I believe no company can afford to offer services in this economy at that rate without substantial increases in fees to the customer user. In any case this FBO will provide services to mostly transient high valued business Jet Operations. We have had many conversation with RTAA staff, it is our understanding that no individual hangers will be built, only large common hangers for business Jets.

The RTAA actually told us that it would be more cost effective for us to have two FBO’s rather than Three. Apparently the RTAA management has never had a simple economics class. In short; if the supply shrinks and demand grows or remains constant the price will rise. By decreasing the supply of hangers 70% the competition will grow for the few hangers left and the price will rise, not fall as the RTAA suggests.

When other cities, counties, and airports are competing for new business and to entice customers with offers of lower prices, elimination of fees, and greater value, the Reno Tahoe Airport plans will substantially raise cost to the traveler and eliminate most of general aviation aircraft from the field. This along with displacing millions of dollars in tax revenue makes no sense.

The current FBO’s have served the needs of residents and travelers, including U.S. presidents, as well as other dignitaries. They serve Casino aircraft that fly in high valued gamblers that help support our economy. The current FBO’s in my opinion do a great job at a fair an affordable cost to the users.

Although we have had many conversations with the RTAA management the association and the General Aviation stake holders have been excluded from the planning process, we have been given no opportunity for input and have been told how it is going to be! “Your aircraft are best suited at Stead.”

On May 10, 2010 at 2:30 our association will be given ten minutes to present our case to the Reno Tahoe Airport Authority and the board of trustees in the first General Aviation Work Shop. This Work Shop was put together by the RTAA after Association President Hege solicited the aid of AOPA and instructed me to advise the Washoe County Commissioners, Reno Planning Governing Board and to update and advise individual lawmakers. I hope you agree with me that ten minutes to discuss issues that affect half of all operations at KRNO is simply not enough time and nothing more than an effort to placate the media and the public with “we listened to what they had to say.”

I am a flight instructor and have been a pilot for thirty one years and have watched one airport after another shut out general aviation with high fees. I agree with Bill Dunn when he said in a recent article published on AOPA’s web site, to the 435,000 pilot members, “It’s a scenario repeated all too often at air carrier airports all across the country – general aviation tenants being squeezed out in favor of the airlines.” The Reno Tahoe Aviation Association plans of bucking this trend. We must insure that the community understands that General Aviation benefits our local economy dramatically, in ways that most citizens won’t recognize until those benefits disappear.

There is absolutely no reason why the RTAA cannot continue to accommodate all stake holders and user. We have looked at the airports plans to expand Cargo by as much as 3 to 5 times, double the Commercial Airlines and add a new FBO at the corner of Rock and Mill and still cannot see any reason why the RTAA cannot do all of this and accommodate general aviation by keeping the hangers and tie downs at Jet West and Sierra Air Center. Or if the RTAA insist on tearing those perfectly good hangers down then they should bare the cost of constructing new hangers somewhere else on the field. Is the cost of a hanger at KRTS less expensive to build than one at KRNO ?

The Reno Tahoe Aviation Associations feels that since General Aviation is responsible for half the operations at KRNO General Aviation pilots and stake holders have right to be heard and be a part of any future plan and that is why we need your help and support.

The Reno Tahoe Aviation Association would like you to help by; going to the Reno Tahoe Aviation Association web-site at and giving us your email address so that you can receive regular messages and updates; we would like you to contact the RTAA Board of Trustees and the public officials that appoint those trustees and express your concerns, you may do this by going to our web-site and clinking on the appropriate link; email us with your ideas and concerns; become a member and ask how you can get involved and help!

Our stated mission at the Reno Tahoe Aviation Association is:

And when talking with public officials and the public our talking points are: Reno Tahoe Aviation Association

Key Points

  • Reno Tahoe Airport is a Community Airport intended to serve multiple uses
  • General Aviation is here to serve the community and is absolutely vital to the welfare of this community
  • General Aviation benefits our local economy dramatically, in ways that most citizens won’t recognize until those benefits disappear:
  • Business & Job Creation
  • Tourism
  1. The Reno Tahoe Airport Authority, as a municipal body, needs to employ reasonable and equitable price structures for tenants (a 4,000% increase wouldn’t be tolerated in any other arena)
  2. There IS a solution that can accommodate all parties– there is absolutely no reason to push General Aviation or the FBO’s out of Reno Tahoe Airport
  3. The Reno Tahoe Aviation Association is asking for: The Airport Authority to hear our case and to allow us to be involved in the planning of this solution

    I hope you agree with me that the RTAA needs a fair plan and a balanced approach for all users and the surrounding community.

    Thank you for your time and attention.

    Sincerely your friends and fellow pilots

    To read more go to the Reno Gazette-Journal article.

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