Wyoming Supreme Court upholds JH Airport’s FBO purchase by bonds

JACKSON, Wyo. – An ongoing legal spat arising when a Wyoming airport attempted to launch an ‘in-house’ fixed-base operator, using revenue bonds to fund the deal and effectively squeezing out the competition, has seemingly reached a conclusion in the courts.

The Wyoming Supreme Court this week issued a ruling that affirms the District Court of Teton County, holding that the Jackson Hole Airport Board may use revenue bonds to purchase the assets of Jackson Hole Aviation, the airport’s fixed based operator (FBO).

“We are very pleased with the ruling today from the Wyoming Supreme Court. [The] ruling shows that these lawsuits have been without merit and the airport board was operating within its authority,” said JH Airport Board President Rick Braun. “Our board acted in a way that was best for our community and its airport, and we look forward to resuming negotiations with JH Aviation regarding the purchase in the new year.”

In July 2017, the JH Airport Board considered whether it was in the public interest to allow more than one FBO to operate on the airport, or whether it should instead purchase FBO assets from JH Aviation, and operate a single FBO. In November 2017, the board decided that its purchase of FBO assets was in the best interest of the airport and community.

The board found that due to its location within a National Park, the area available for general aviation was limited and having more than one FBO operating at the airport would result in inefficient ramp operations and duplication of facilities.

Almost immediately, pushback—mainly from Greg Herrick—began and culminated in one of several legal challenges. One of the lawsuits, filed by Wyoming Jet Center LLC and others, has held up the airport board’s purchase for nearly two years. The high court ruling stating that the airport board acted appropriately and within its authority in 2017 when it decided to purchase both tangible and intangible FBO assets using revenue bonds will allow the business deal to go through.

Many of the same plaintiffs also filed an administrative action with the Federal Aviation Administration challenging the board’s right under several FAA regulations to operate a single FBO at the airport. The FAA ruled in the board’s favor on all points earlier this year.

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