Charter pilot Benny McClelland of Western Airways observes Monday as Amber Whitlock of Spectrum Jet Center fuels his Cessna Citation VII. McClelland and colleague Mike Doerge were preparing for a departure today. Spectrum Jet Center could be replaced by Galaxy Aviation of Steamboat-Hayden, county officials said Monday.

Photo by Tom Ross

Charter pilot Benny McClelland of Western Airways observes Monday as Amber Whitlock of Spectrum Jet Center fuels his Cessna Citation VII. McClelland and colleague Mike Doerge were preparing for a departure today. Spectrum Jet Center could be replaced by Galaxy Aviation of Steamboat-Hayden, county officials said Monday.

Spectrum purchase poised

New fixed base operator would replace Spectrum Jet Center

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— Galaxy Aviation of Steamboat-Hayden is in contract negotiations with Routt County to replace Spectrum Jet Center, the longtime fixed base operator at Yampa Valley Regional Airport, county officials said Monday.

Spectrum owner Jane Harkelik was in Florida and did not return an e-mail seeking comment, and company officials said no one else was available to speak about the matter Monday. Routt County officials said Spectrum has agreed to a sale but that it is dependent on contingencies, including an operation and lease agreement between Galaxy and Routt County.

"They are looking at purchasing Spectrum Jet Center," County Manager Tom Sullivan said. "Before they can do that, they need an agreement with Routt County."

A discussion and consideration of that contract was scheduled for 3:15 p.m. Monday, but it was tabled until 11:15 a.m. today. County Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak said commissioners were awaiting a signed agreement from Galaxy officials, who were reviewing the latest version of the operation and lease agreement and its associated fees.

"There have been a few beers bet on whether that will happen," Stahoviak said about Galaxy signing the agreement in time for the scheduled hearing Monday.

As the fixed base operator at the Hayden airport since 1986, Spectrum services YVRA's corporate and general aviation aircraft. Spectrum handles hundreds of landings a month. Last year, former Chief Financial Officer Frank Hogue said the company is so busy during ski season that just keeping enough fuel on hand is a challenge. The amount of fuel Spectrum sold to corporate planes increased from 370,265 gallons in 2000 to 653,048 in 2006, Hogue said last August.

While business has been booming in recent years, Sullivan said Spectrum never followed through on commitments to do development at the airport. Sullivan said the county had hoped Spectrum would move its operations farther east and away from YVRA's commercial terminal to allow for an expansion of commercial air service at the airport.

The term of the operation and lease agreement with Galaxy would be 35 years, Sullivan said, or 50 if they come through with the promised development.

"This is a great opportunity for YVRA," he said.

There was no mention of the potential sale and FBO takeover in a manager's report prepared for the Aug. 14 meeting of the Yampa Valley Airport Commission. That report showed relatively flat growth at YVRA this summer, with 18,600 arriving and departing passengers in June and July compared to 18,000 for those two months last year.

Sullivan said Routt County has been in negotiations with Galaxy for about a month, and County Commissioner Doug Monger said the county is using this opportunity to negotiate itself a better deal than it had with Spectrum.

Monger and County Commissioner Diane Mitsch Bush noted that YVRA is very different today than it was in the 1980s. When Spectrum began operations, Steamboat Springs Airport still was servicing commercial aircraft, Mitsch Bush said.

"It was a whole different world back then," she said. "It couldn't be more different."

Monger said Spectrum got a sweeter deal than it would under current circumstances.

"We were talking another age, another era," he said. "It was a risky thing, and the contract was weighted to that risk factor."

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