LaSill Aviation has withdrawn its request to be released from its contract as the fixed base operator for Lawton-Fort Sill Regional Airport.
The owners of LaSill Aviation made their initial request in early March as the airport's governing board debated a decision to ban large aircraft, or "heavies," from landing at the airport as a means of preserving a runway that has begun to show signs of serious deterioration in some areas.
Members of the Lawton Metropolitan Area Airport Authority agreed on a split vote to give Airport Director Barbara McNally the authority to make exceptions, but said heavies no longer would be allowed to routinely land at the airport. The decision affects chartered commercial jets as well as large military transport flights, which have made arrangements to land at other airports. The decision does not affect military training flights, general aviation or commercial flights by the airport's carrier, American Eagle.
That ruling by the airport authority prompted LaSill's decision, with officials saying last month that without military transport traffic "LaSill cannot remain a financially sound business." In a letter dated March 10, the firm asked to be released from its contract effective June 1 and had asked for a rate reduction for its remaining time in operation. As the fixed base operator, LaSill sells fuel to aircraft that land and take off from the airport, and officials there said heavy aircraft provided much of their business. Losing those aircraft as customers would have an impact on revenues, they said.
In a letter dated March 24, LaSill Aviation withdrew its initial request to end its lease, a request the airport authority acknowledged at its April 26 meeting. Without going into details, co-owner William Tipton said the firm has learned "of some new factors in regards to the runway problems and heavy military aircraft issues." The owners asked to rescind the request for release from the lease until they have had a chance to evaluate those factors and noted they would "notify you as soon as we have all the new facts and can determine if being released from our current leases are still the only option."
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