Galaxy deal still on hold

Florida company would bring strong performance record to YVRA

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— The company that hopes to replace Spectrum Jet Center as the fixed base operator at Yampa Valley Regional Airport in Hayden currently runs an award-winning chain of five airport service centers in Florida.

Galaxy Aviation, parent company of local subsidiary Galaxy Aviation of Steamboat-Hayden, has Florida locations in Boca Raton, St. Augustine, Orlando, West Palm Beach and Stuart. Their West Palm Beach location was ranked seventh among U.S. FBOs in a 2004 survey conducted by Professional Pilot magazine. Fixed based operators, or FBOs, generally service corporate and general aviation traffic at airports that may separately provide commercial air service, such as county-owned YVRA. There are more than 5,000 FBOs nationwide.

Compared to Colorado FBOs that made the magazine's 2008 list, Galaxy Aviation of Palm Beach was one slot behind Denver Jet Center and three above Vail Valley Jet Center. The magazine ranked Galaxy Aviation's Palm Beach location 27th this year.

"They're a very strong, high-end FBO service provider in Florida," said Dave Ruppel, YVRA manager. "The facilities they've provided in Florida are some of the best I've seen. And I've seen a lot."

Negotiations continue between Routt County and Galaxy Aviation of Steamboat-Hayden.

The company needs an operation and lease agreement with the county before it can follow through with its planned purchase of Spectrum. Reached on his cell phone Tuesday, Galaxy Aviation Senior Vice President Eric Plotkin said he could not comment on the planned purchase until negotiations with the county are complete.

After a series of offers and counteroffers, county commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to authorize Routt County Board of Commissioners Chairwoman Diane Mitsch Bush's signature on the contract if Galaxy agrees to the county's latest fee proposal. The agreement would earn the county about $15,000 more than its current contract with Spectrum, Ruppel said. While not a significant sum of cash, Ruppel said Galaxy also has committed to making a "significant investment in the airport" that would lead to trickle-down benefits such as increased fuel sales.

"You're not talking about a huge amount of money with fees," Ruppel said. "But anything we can do to improve our general aviation facilities is going to bring more planes in."

Ruppel would not be specific about the investments Galaxy might make in YVRA, but County Manager Tom Sullivan said Monday that the county hopes to see fixed base operations move farther east and away from the airport terminal to allow for an expansion of commercial air service.

Larry DeAndrade, vice president and general manager of Spectrum Jet Center, also said he can't say much until the sale is concluded, which he expects by the end of the month. Spectrum has been at YVRA since 1986, and DeAndrade and Ruppel described the relationship as a good one.

"We've been a good partner," DeAndrade said. "The only reason this business is selling is because (owner Jane Harelik) has decided to retire."

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