Block Island Times

RIAC to staff airport this summer

A senior representative of the Rhode Island Airport Corporation has notified stakeholders of the Block Island State Airport that the island business that had received preliminary approval to provide airport services has withdrawn its proposal. Alan Andrade, Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of RIAC, also stated that RIAC would provide support and services during the summer months.
An email from Andrade to Town Manager Ed Roberge and others stated: “As an update to the activities associated with Block Island Airport, please be advised that the proposer for the Block Island Airport fee collections, and associated pilot assistance services, has withdrawn their proposal. RIAC has maintained a full-time employee at the airport to provide these services and ensure safe operations of the airport.  We will be providing additional personnel for the summer season to continue to provide these services and maintain the airfield.”
The email continued, “RIAC will continue to work with the Town of New Shoreham to support the desires of the Town as it relates to having more activity at the airport.”
In a letter to stakeholders, Block Island resident and pilot Henry DuPont, said that, “We commend RIAC for correcting the ‘unattended airport issue’ by providing additional staffing in addition to their single 40-hour a week maintenance employee. The RIAC staffing solution they are now proposing for the Block Island Airport still does not meet their own minimum FBO staffing requirements for RIAC’s own third party FBO Service Provider they have engaged to provide the same professional FBO services at each of their other four General Aviation Airports.”
In the letter, DuPont lists RIAC’s own requirements and levels of experience the airport employee should have, as well as the tasks that are needed to run the airport. These include tiedown parking assistance, pre-heating engines, use of electrical equipment, cabin cleaning, de-icing, lavatory services for airplanes, assisting enplaning and deplaning for passengers, loading and unloading luggage, and the maintenance and equipment, facilities and aircraft at the airport.
“The point we are making here is that RIAC has minimum requirements for their airport FBO Service companies to employ airport personnel who are experienced professionals with all the training and certifications needed to operate a safe, welcoming, and well managed airport. If RIAC requires their FBO service providers to provide at the minimum, best industry practices, at their other airports, why would we not want them to provide the same level of quality FBO services here. “
DuPont concluded by saying, “Mr. Alan Andrade has stated that RIAC will provide the Town with any level of airport service we desire. I respectfully submit that if we request RIAC to restore the funding to our airport budget and reengage Flightlevel Aviation. We will be getting the same level of quality FBO services, RIAC provides at each of their other General Aviation airports. This will end their disparate treatment of Block Island and allow our airport to achieve its full potential.”

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