High-stakes airport contract stayed because of poor communications

December 27, 2023


In a joint meeting with the Airport Commission last week, the Paso Robles City Council decided to delay the procurement process for a highly lucrative contract to operate concessions at the Paso Robles Municipal Airport because staff reports lacked detailed financial information about the two applicants.

During the Dec. 19 joint meeting, both members of the Airport Commission and City Council said they had not been provided spread sheets, proposals or detailed financial information before being asked to make a decision. Based on limited information from airport staff, the commission ranked Loyd’s Aviation at 91.1 while ranking ACI Jet at 86.8.

Of the dozen members of the public and the employees of the two companies who spoke during public comment, all but two supported ACI Jet.

Noreen Martin noted that the owners of ACI Jet have generational ties to the community. She also reminded the council that when the previous company working concessions at the airport went belly up, it was ACI Jet that stepped in.

On the other side, airport staff said Loyd’s Aviation out of Bakersfield was a better “culture fit” with Paso Robles, according to a staff report.

The most common comment, however, was that the staff report failed to provide detailed financial information, such as which proposal would provide the highest financial gain to the city.

Several members of the airport commission noted they had made their rankings based on insufficient information from airport staff.

Through a unanimous vote, the City Council directed staff to form a committee of two council members and two commission members to work with both applicants regarding what the city is looking for and to examine their proposals.

Since 1973, the city has owned and operated the airport. Since 2011, ACI Jet has provided concession services such as refueling planes and providing airplane maintenance, according to staff. Mercy Air, the CHP and Calfire are three of the largest patrons of the airport.

With plans for a spaceport, tech corridor and increased development at the airport, the city is evaluating its management plans and contracts.


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ACI jet has an extremely well run and highly regarded FBO at the SLO airport. They would do a great job with concessions in Paso. Enough with this “cultural fit” nonsense. How can you even quantify that? Do they have defined “culture” that candidates have to fit?