WICHITA FALLS, Tx (RNN Texoma) - Pilots and those that do business at Kickapoo Airport discussed their concerns with the possibility of it going private. They do not know if it's the best thing for what they feel is a staple of the Wichita Falls community.
Jay Barker flew in from Crowell, Texas to Kickapoo Airport today. In his 50 years of being a pilot, he has seen both privatized airports and city owned. When he heard that the City of Wichita Falls is considering privatizing Kickapoo, he had his reservations.
Barker said, "I think the city owned airport probably is more stable over the long run there are some advantages to the private but I'm not real sure which is best. As far as we're concerned, as long as we have stability of services in and out so we can keep our business going that's the important thing."
A lot of other pilots and people that operate out of the airport are even more skeptical.
Deputy City Manager Jim Dockery says the city is looking to save money and become more efficient. He says city is just testing the waters and promised that people that use the airport would know of any changes.
He said, "Try to be patient. Let us go through the process. If there is change that is about to take place in the future we will work with the users out there at the airport to make sure they fully understand what the changes would be and how that might impact them."
However, Jim McElvain, a flight instructor and FAA Pilot Examiner feels they have been left out of the loop. He said, "[We had] absolutely no input period. All of a sudden there was this request for proposal and that's what got quite the flurry going here."
Tenants gathered together to talk about their concerns.
The qualifications to submit a proposal is 3 years' experience or related comparable aviation experience. They feel that the requirements are too vague and do not ensure that whoever takes over is truly qualified.
They agree that the airport – which according to them makes a profit every year – still needs improvements. But, they want to know why the city cannot do it themselves and if the city will try while they look for private bidders.
They also feel that the 30 day deadline to put in a bid is too short of a time, especially considering they didn't realize an RFP was out until a week after it was released.
Above all else, they want the city to improve personnel issues they feel the airport has, and make it a place that represents Wichita Falls well.
They are not sure going private will highlight Wichita Falls the way its own city government can.
To see the RFP click here