(Opinion) The rest of the story: Pease airport needs a second FBO

Federal funding hangs in the balance if fixed-base operator monopoly continues

We have followed with great interest the story surrounding Pease International Airport, its sole fixed-base operator (FBO), and the proposal to introduce an additional FBO (thus competition) from a national operator of airport services — a company named Million Air.

We are not pilots but know a few and have served the state in multiple roles in decades past. We were both present when Doug Scaman and the late Senator Ed Dupont’s leadership created the Pease Development Authority.

Sadly, as newsrooms across the country have lost talented investigative journalists, we rarely hear, as the famous radio commentator Paul Harvey said, “the rest of the story.”

The reality of the efforts to keep another FBO from operating at PDA has little to do with water quality, because the PDA is known for its high standards in protecting the environment. Containment standards are higher today than when the bankrupt Pan Am first installed the fuel tanks now owned and operated by Port City Air, the sole FBO.

The “rest of the story” is that Port City Air (PCA) wishes to retain its lucrative monopoly at Pease. PCA is cloaking itself as the environmental protector of the public interest. PCA is no protector and is simply opportunistically seeking to retain its monopoly at Pease.

And interestingly, if PCA is allowed to maintain its monopoly, the significant federal funding that supports jobs and environmental compliance at a small airport like Pease could evaporate on short notice. That would not be good for Pease, the PDA, our environment or our community.

By all accounts, Million Air is a first-class FBO with installations all around the country serving the private air industry. The PDA leadership has done their job and the site review was done to much higher standards than when Pan Am’s tanks were first installed and later acquired by PCA.

There should be no reason to prevent having a second FBO and healthy competition at Pease or elsewhere in New Hampshire’s robust and diverse business community.

George Bald of Somersworth is a former commissioner of the NH Department of Resources and Economic Development and also served as executive director of the Pease Development Authority. Tom Sedoric of Rye has served as chair of the Economic Development Advisory Commission under four New Hampshire governors of both parties.

Categories: Opinion