Port of Kennewick commissioners believe they may have someone to take over Vista Field Airport as a fixed-based operator.
Commissioners on Tuesday directed port staff to begin negotiations with Mike Shannon, who would take over as the Vista Field fixed-based operator in January. They also decided to send rejection letters to two applicants for the fixed-based operator contract.
Shannon told commissioners at their Tuesday meeting that he wants to see the airport succeed by making customer service the No. 1 priority.
Tim Arntzen, port executive director, recommended negotiating with Shannon, who he said came closest to satisfying the commission's request for proposals.
The two other applicants did not meet all of the conditions requested. Their proposals were more along the lines of offering to run the airport on a contract basis, Arntzen said last month.
Shannon, a dentist who owns Shannon Dental in Kennewick, said he wants to make Vista Field more than just an airport that would compete with other airports. He said he would like to take customer service to a higher level.
Arntzen suggested the commissioners give Shannon lots of freedom to learn the business.
"Year one should be hands-off. Let Mike learn what is involved. Year two, let Mike get his team in place. In other words, we shouldn't put too many expectations on him," Arntzen said.
"Mike stepped up when we were floundering. He's putting his own money at risk," Arntzen said.
"This plan to go forward is wonderful. It's been something we've struggled with for a long time," said Skip Novakovich, commission chairman.
Shannon's proposal said he will provide aircraft repair and maintenance services, a pilot shop with supplies, flight instruction and aircraft towing and parking guidance during public hours.
Shannon intends to provide a certified flight instructor, certified aircraft maintenance personnel and staff needed for day-to-day pilot fixed-based operator services.
He wants the port to provide about $40,000 as an annual supplement.
Shannon said he has been a pilot for more than 50 years, owns a private hangar at Vista Field, been in business in the Tri-Cities for 37 years and has 15 to 20 employees with his dental practice.