For years, locals and area officials have said that North Texas Regional Airport — Perrin Field is special. Some have even called the former U.S. Air Force base Texoma’s “diamond in the rough,” saying with effort and the right expertise it could become something that benefits the entire region. Now area officials are looking for the right person to help polish that gem.
In a special meeting in January, Grayson County officials and the Regional Mobility Authority issued a request for proposals from outside management companies for services at the airport. After a month-long proposal period, officials are reviewing three proposals that were submitted.
“We’ve talked for years about what the airport is going to be,” Grayson County Judge Bill Magers said. “Now we are at a point where we ask how best to develop this airport.”
At the end of the proposal period, Magers said three companies — AvPorts out of Washington D.C., Texas Aviation Partners of San Marcos and SAMI Management of Addison — had submitted qualifications and offers of service. Of the three, Magers said one of the applicants did not meet the terms of the proposal request, but expressed interest in working with the airport within its capabilities.
Magers declined to comment on the exact details of the proposals, citing a nondisclosure agreement as the RMA reviews the submissions.
Following the proposal process, Magers said officials reviewed each bid and graded the two qualifying proposals based on the criteria of experience, staff resources and price. In coming days, officials will be meeting with the highest ranking firm to discuss a possible contract for services.
Magers said the end result may be that no firm is chosen, but he remains optimistic about the chances of the airport having new management in the near future.
“The end result of these efforts will be a success that brings new businesses and jobs,” he said.
In the proposal request, the RMA said it is seeking a management firm with “relevant management experience with major national airports and airlines, as well as experience working with Texas governmental entities in the operation and development of airports and related aviation facilities.”
In these roles, Magers said the firm will be responsible for promotion of the airport to both new tenants and prospective businesses alike. Other duties include the coordination of future building at the airport, the pursuit of state and federal funding programs and oversight into the day-to-day operations of NTRA.
“We believe we need a development partner that has experience in developing new business opportunities and maximizing the current value of our airport,” he said.
Among the current goals for the airport is petitioning for inclusion in the Federal Aviation Administration’s Contract Tower Program. Under this program, the FAA would provide approximately $550,000 to fund and staff the airport’s control tower.
Currently, Grayson County provides $275,000 in funding for the tower each year. With federal funding, the tower will be able to be manned with additional staff with overlapping service hours. Currently, officials estimate it may be 2017 or 2018 before the airport is able to enter into the program.
This change in management structure will not eliminate the need for a general airport manager to oversee the daily operations of the airport, Magers said. Instead this position will instead focus on development and growth.
In 2015, Airport Manager Mike Shahan left NTRA for a position in Galveston after 16 years. In March of last year, the airport also lost its marketing director when Bill Retz retired.
On Wednesday, Magers commended the work done by Shahan in bringing the airport to where it is now. Prior to Shahan coming on board, Magers said the airport was still reeling from when it was decommissioned in the 1970s.
“Today it is a well run, professional medium- to high-end general aviation airport,” Magers said.
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