Say Bid For New FBO Violated Rules
Attorneys are asking the Federal Aviation Administration to
overturn a recent decision by the Lafayette Airport Commission to
replace the long-time Lafayette Regional Airport's fixed-based
Paul Fournet Air Service and Herbert Schilling II filed a
complaint last week with the FAA, saying the way the commission
awarded the fixed-base operator contract to Million Air violates
FAA rules and regulations. Paul Fournet Air Service (PFAS) has been
the FBO at LFT since 1952.
The plaintiffs want the FAA to declare the contract was awarded
in violation of regulations, order it void and begin the selection
The airport commission began accepting proposals for lease
agreements on an FBO in 2005. Among the three companies that
submitted proposals included Million Air and a joint venture
between PFAS and local investors, including Schilling, according to
the Louisiana Advocate.
The Fournet group says it turned in its properly completed
proposal on the deadline but Million Air only submitted a general
letter that didn't meet the specs for proposals as established by
the commission. Then, Million Air was allowed to submit a
"supplement" to its proposal -- after the other submitted proposals
were made public.
Several days later, the commission voted to negotiate
exclusively with Million Air.
The complaint states that by
allowing Million Air to view the submitted proposals, the
commission provided a way for Million Air to beat them. It also
alleges the Million Air deal has become increasingly unbeneficial
to LFT and says their proposal is better by $2.7 million.
Even though the commission did not have to abide by public bid
laws in awarding the contract, the complaint says the process
violated specific FAA rules:
Failure to uniformly apply conditions for the engagement of a
commercial aeronautical enterprise.
Failure to develop and publish minimum standards for the lease
"in advance of negotiations with any prospective tenant or
Failure to uniformly apply the same standards to all tenant
operators seeking the same franchise.
Attorney Michael Hebert said Fournet Air Service filed a similar
complaint with the FAA last year, but the agency dismissed it. This
prompted an appeal to the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals which
recommended the more formal complaint.
Hebert said the FAA will decide to either decide the case based
on information received or to hold a full hearing. The agency and
the commission will have a chance to formally respond.
The relationship between LFT
and PFAS continues to sour as the commission voted last week to
file a lawsuit against PFAS seeking $800,000 in owed maintenance
PFAS owner/operator Richard Fournet says the commission is
"heavily overstating" that amount.
"That number has been used previously to argue their point and
to negate anything I have to say," he said. "There is a gulf
between what they are purporting to do and what the truth is."