Airport manager's company bids to run control tower

Melissa Crowe By Melissa Crowe

April 1, 2013 at 10:04 p.m.
Updated April 1, 2013 at 11:02 p.m.

Depending on the final say from Texas transportation officials, an area company could run Victoria Regional Airport's air traffic control tower.

Clear Direct Aviation Services was the only company to answer Victoria County Commissioners' call to operate the control tower. The company is owned by Jason Milewski, the airport manager.

The Texas Transportation Commission will deliberate in an emergency session Thursday whether to give 90-day funding to the state's 13 contract towers axed from the Federal Aviation Administration budget.

County Judge Don Pozzi said the $385,000 bid from Clear Direct Aviation Services will be reviewed and if approved, would run on a month-to-month basis.

He said Milewski's position with the airport makes no difference in whether he can manage the tower.

"All he is is a management company," Pozzi said. "It doesn't make any difference who the management company is, so long as they're not county employees."

Pozzi hopes for a solid plan from the state by the end of the week.

Safety is a main concern to closing the control tower, but economic impacts also play a role.

The tower spending cuts are part of $637 million the FAA must shed by Sept. 30, brought on by the $85 billion cuts to federal spending across the government. Across the U.S., 149 towers are affected.

"We have talked about the many, many reasons that the operation of the tower is important to this community, but above all, we and TxDOT, (agree) the No. 1 reason is always safety," Pozzi said.

The control tower is currently run by Robinson Aviation until federal funding stops April 21.

Robinson Aviation did not submit a bid.

"I felt that being local, that I can probably provide a very cost-effective way for the county to proceed, if they choose to do so," Milewski said.

The proposed state funding would cover 90 percent of the tower costs with a 10 percent area match.

"If that all follows through, whatever private company is running the control tower and providing labor will get paid by the county and the county reimbursed through TxDOT," Milewski said.

Milewski said the company started last year.

He said other companies were contacted to apply, and he hoped others would have submitted bids.

"Everything is clear, transparent and above board," he said. "This was put out for any private company. ... I just felt that it could be done more cost-effectively to the county by handling it locally."



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