Monday, January 30, 2017

Signature Pursuing 'All Avenues' after SNA Decision

Signature Flight Support plans to pursue “all avenues available” and said it is strongly encouraging the Orange County, California board of supervisors to revisit the process that led to the chain’s loss of a lease at Santa Ana’s John Wayne Airport (SNA/KSNA). The board last week voted four-one to switch the leasehold from Signature—which has provided services at SNA for 20 years—to ACI Jet, a California-based FBO, charter, management and maintenance provider. The board cited complaints about fuel pricing and a desire for a locally based operation in its decision.

“Last Tuesday’s decision by the Orange County board…ignored the unanimous decision of its citizen airport commission, as well as a strong recommendation by the John Wayne Airport staff,” said Signature v-p Geoff Heck. He agreed that the decision to award a short-term lease as the airport finalizes a master plan seemed sound, but he questioned the decision in light of the scoring process.

During last week’s meeting, supervisor Todd Spitzer also noted that the board’s decision supersedes the airport staff's recommendation and the selection of an FBO that was not originally among the higher-scoring submissions. Signature claimed to take the top spot in the scoring process, but Heck said after a “closed session…the board of supervisors reordered the rankings, placing ACI first, Atlantic second and dropping Signature to fifth place.” 
The board agreed to continue to provide a leasehold to Atlantic, the second FBO on the airport. Heck, however, noted that Signature “was unable to participate in the [closed-meeting] discussion and, most important, was unable to hear the board’s rationale for making the decision to re-rank the bidders.”

Signature's customer base has “reacted with shock” to the decision, Heck said, and has expressed concerns about how the decision would affect their operations.

Heck also characterized as baseless conjecture the board's comments about pricing. He said, “Pricing varies by airport based on our costs of operating at a respective airport. We carefully take these issues into consideration when we establish our market fuel pricing.” Most of its customers benefit from loyalty and other pricing programs, Signature said. Supervisor Shawn Nelson had acknowledged Signature’s pricing differential, but countered that pricing is important to all of the tenants.

Signature also called public statements made against its chain “unwarranted and damaging,” and said it “cannot allow inaccurate statements or allegations that negatively impact our well established brand and our customer loyalty to go unanswered.”

For ACI Jet, the SNA leasehold would add a fourth location for the FBO. “We are excited to bring our award-winning, independent FBO to Orange County’s John Wayne Airport,” William Borgsmiller, president of ACI Jet, had said of the decision. “A duopoly of sorts has existed at Santa Ana for the past several years between the chain FBOs, and competitive fuel pricing and service has suffered as a result.”

(Kerry Lynch - AINOnline News)

No comments: