Bend airport dispute lands in court

Professional Air claims the city took retaliatory action against it

By Hillary Borrud / The Bulletin / @hborrud

Published Feb 27, 2013 at 04:00AM

A dispute between businesses at the Bend Municipal Airport has landed in court, with one suing the other and the city of Bend for more than $4 million.

Professional Air, which filed the lawsuit, provides fuel, flight instruction, aircraft maintenance and other services at the city-owned airport. Leading Edge Aviation offers helicopter flight training, avionics installation and other services. Last year, Leading Edge Aviation sought a new lease with the city that would allow the company its own fueling station. The city’s agreement to sign the lease is one of a long list of ways in which Professional Air alleges the city violated municipal and state laws and retaliated against Professional Air for refusing to modify an airport development agreement.

In a complaint filed Feb. 15 in Deschutes County Circuit Court, Professional Air alleges the city breached its lease with Professional Air, as well as the development agreement the city signed with the company. Professional Air asked the court for damages of more than $4 million, to cancel or modify the city lease with Leading Edge Aviation and for other relief.

A representative of Professional Air declined to comment, and city officials declined to comment on the lawsuit.

Travis Warthen, a co-owner of Leading Edge Aviation, said the company decided to build its own fueling facility. “Our biggest motivation to do that is because we’re the largest user of fuel at the airport,” Warthen said Monday.

Leading Edge Aviation had purchased its fuel from Professional Air and had asked that company for a discount, which Professional Air declined to provide, according to Warthen. Leading Edge Aviation leased a fueling site from the city last summer, but stopped construction due to the dispute with Professional Air, Warthen said.

Now, Leading Edge Aviation uses a temporary fuel trailer. Warthen plans to sell fuel once Leading Edge Aviation gets a permanent fueling station.

Assistant city attorney Gary Firestone said he will likely ask the City Council to vote on a fueling station lease with Leading Edge Aviation. “We anticipate some changes, including changes in location,” Firestone said.

Airport Manager Gary Judd said it is not uncommon for airports to have several fixed base operators providing fuel and other services.