New leases Hertz so good

Airport will get more revenue from rental companies.

Martha's Vineyard Airport commissioners talk about rental car company leases. - George Brennan

Updated 3:30 pm

The Martha’s Vineyard Airport Commission unanimously approved new three-year leases for two rental car companies that will generate at least $155,500 per year for the airport.

At a meeting Thursday afternoon, airport manager Cindi Martin said two companies — both current vendors — provided qualifying bids. Hertz, which will offer rentals from Hertz, Dollar, and Thrifty, was the high bidder. Vineyard Enterprises Inc., which offers rentals from Avis and Budget, was the other bidder.

As the high bidder, Hertz will have the choice of counter space, Martin said. Both companies will operate out of one counter each.

The agreements were modified so that the airport is more in line with industry standards in terms of minimum annual fee and charging for parking spaces, Peter Wharton, an airport commissioner, said. “So very good job from [Martin] to recognize the new opportunities that were there and to manage the RFP process successfully,” he said.

In a follow-up email, Martin wrote that the grants will generate $11,447 more than the existing lease agreements.

At the end of one year, the agreement will be reviewed, and the airport will either receive 10 percent of gross or the guaranteed amount, Martin said.

The new contracts go into effect Jan. 1.

In other business, commissioners had a lengthy discussion about money allocated by the county for overhead. The $125,000 has remained unchanged for years, and the methodology in reaching that amount is unclear, commissioner Richard Knabel said.

Commissioners, once again, expressed some frustration with software accounting systems.

“I believe strongly the airport needs to control and manage all of the financial system … whatever we are using,” chairman Bob Rosenbaum said. He alluded to a court order that says the airport commission, not the county treasurer, should have control over airport finances. “This is sort of mind-boggling to me, and it needs to be corrected,” he said of the accounting system.

Meanwhile, the airport has a $1.2 million operating surplus after the first three months of its fiscal year — a $1 million gain over the previous year, Knabel said.

Despite a string of nor’easters last month, Martin said use of the airport is up year-to-year by 11.5 percent.

Those same nor’easters caused some damage to businesses that rent from the airport, Wharton reported. The board voted unanimously to provide retroactive permission for Vineyard Decorators to fix a gaping hole in its roof left after a contractor went through it fixing shingles that had blown off during a storm, Wharton said.

When commissioner Kristin Zern asked if that was standard operating procedure, to make the repairs, then ask permission, Wharton pointed out that the tenant reached out to the business park manager before doing the work. “In this case, there was a good-size hole in the roof with rain coming through,” he said.

Knabel recommended reminding tenants of the proper protocol in a mailing.

The board also authorized repairs to “leaky windows and an unstable door” at Hangar B.

Nelson Mechanical and Davis Landscaping are swapping spaces in the airport park, and language has been fixed in the Registry of Motor Vehicles sublease for space it rents from the Vineyard Transit Authority.

The airport has installed its last water filtration system — at least for now — having to with the discovery of per- or polyfluoroalkyl substance (PFAS), Martin said. PFAS is an emerging contaminat found in the wells of neighborhoods south of the airport, which prompted a Department of Environmental Protection action plan, including the installation of filtration systems at homes with elevated levels.

Martin also reported that assistant airport manager Geoff Freeman is in Washington, D.C., at a PFAS conference.

In answer to a question from Knabel, Martin said there are no new updates of federal or state legislation dealing with the contaminant. She expects to meet with U.S. Rep. William Keating when he’s on the Island next month for an update.

Martin said airport officials continue to lobby for an alternative to the use of aqueous film-forming foam, known as AFFF, a firefighting foam that contains PFAS and is required to be on hand by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). “A big part of the PFAS discussion is putting pressure on the FAA to take responsibility for the damage that it does, and the other is to encourage manufacturers to come up with an alternative,” she said. “The discussion is picking up the pace at this point, and is now front and center in the industry.”

Airports are required to use the firefighting foam because it’s the best way to put out a jet engine fire.

Rosenbaum pointed out that AFFF was recently used for a crash at nearby Bradley Airport in Connecticut. That crash involved a vintage military plane that had visited Martha’s Vineyard weeks earlier.

Martin said airports need relief. “Otherwise we’re going to be bankrupt having to mitigate PFAS,” she said.

Updated with the differences between the rental lease agreements. -Ed