Santa Maria fuel station on the horizon for airport

Fuel should start flowing again at the Santa Maria Public Airport if the Board of Directors approves an operation agreement when it meets today at 7:00 p.m. in the airport administration building.

The airport has been without fuel service for about a year, which has forced pilots to either call in a tank truck or fly out to another local airport that has fuel service, said General Manager Chris Hastert.

Nearly every other local airport offers some sort of fuel service including San Luis Obispo, Oceano, Lompoc, Santa Ynez and Santa Barbara, Hastert said.

Central Coast Jet Center supplied the only bid to operate the self service fuel operation. The board will consider authorization of an agreement between the district and the Jet Center to run the service.

“We have had self service fuel for quite some time at the airport. We have had two go out of business,” Hastert said. “We thought it was a good idea to have fuel available for our general aviation pilots, so our board made the decision to purchase the tanks from the previous operator, so we own the tanks.”

Hastert said the Jet Center’s bid will offer fuel and prices that will be “very competitive” with other local airports. Just like a self-serve gas station for an automobile, pilots will be able to pull up and fuel up with an ATM card.

The district plans to make some improvements to the existing fueling station that is near the airport tower, but once the upgrades are in, fuel should start flowing sometime in mid-September. If it’s approved, the lease with the Jet Center begins Sept. 15th.

The board will also vote on accepting the Federal Aviation Administration Small Community Air Service Development Grant, which the district plans to use to try to land passenger service to Denver or Salt Lake City.

It will also discuss how to proceed with a pair of emergency services projects that have been put out to bid. The district will soon purchase a new Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting (ARFF) vehicle and will begin improvements on access roads and fencing for its fire fighting service.

8/23/12  By Brian Bullock/Staff Writer/