An inquiry from a litigious West Bank businessman who’s interested in competing with Jackson Hole Aviation — even if just for a short period — has been shot down for the second time in several years.

The Jackson Hole Airport board of directors decided last week not to take any action on a request from Greg Herrick, who had implored Jackson Hole Airport to allow competition in its private aviation market space. Federal Aviation Administration regulations require the airport to accommodate competition among fixed-based operators unless airports themselves are the owners and operators.

Jackson Hole Airport is not the owner of its FBO and won’t be for another three years, but its board has announced its intent to take over the business when Jackson Hole Aviation’s lease runs out in spring of 2023.

To make room for Herrick or another business that would run a second FBO, the airport would have to reconstruct some hangars and carve out 3,000 square feet of space for a lounge and administrative space in order to meet its FAA “minimum standards.” At the earliest, according to KLJ Engineering, those facilities wouldn’t be constructed in full until late fall 2022, Airport Director Jim Elwood told his board.

“Final completion would actually be out into February of 2023,” Elwood said. “Based on this analysis, the second FBO would have at most only five months to operate prior to that April 2023 transition to an airport FBO.”

At that point the public lounge and administrative space for the second FBO would have to be deconstructed. Going down that path would not be “rational” or “reasonable,” Elwood said.

“On that basis,” he said, “staff recommends not issuing an RFP for a second FBO.”

Airport board members took the advice, agreeing unanimously not to move forward.

Herrick’s 2017 bid to compete with Jackson Hole Aviation put Jackson Hole Airport on the track toward taking over its FBO, which has previously been run by one or two private businesses. At the time, the airport board was preparing a request for proposals and was moving in the direction of housing two competing FBOs before it reversed course and announced it would instead buy out the last five years of Jackson Hole Aviation’s operating agreement for $26 million.

That proposed business acquisition was met by several Herrick lawsuits that dragged on for years, though Jackson Hole Airport ultimately prevailed on the most consequential complaint, which challenged the legality of how the airport was financing the acquisition.

Afterward, the airport and Jackson Hole Aviation couldn’t come to terms on a shorter-term, three-year contract buyout. The airport board announced it would instead wait for the 2023 lease expiration, but in the meantime it was met by another written inquiry from Herrick asking to reconsider the second FBO.

“As you are aware, as sponsor of a federally obligated airport accepting federal funds, you must make the airport available at reasonable terms and without unjust discrimination between type, kinds and classes of aeronautical activities,” Herrick wrote to Elwood in May. “Nothing has changed from our original application, which demonstrated Wyoming Jet Center desires to and is fully prepared to promptly move forward.”

The airport engaged KLJ Engineering in the aftermath to come up with estimated construction timelines.

It’s unclear if the fight for a second FBO is entirely put to bed. Herrick said on Tuesday he’s still mulling his next steps.

“We’re studying our options right now,” he said. “In the meantime, the board should be thankful I saved them $26 million.”

Contact Mike Koshmrl at 732-7067 or env@jhnewsandguide.com.

Mike has reported on the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem's wildlife, wildlands and the agencies that manage them since 2012. A native Minnesotan, he arrived in the West to study environmental journalism at the University of Colorado.

(5) comments

Tim Rieser

Does the writer know what litigious means? It’s a derisive term for a person who likes litigation. The NAG does not know this about Mr Herrick. The paper should apologize for the use of the term and amend the article. This is lousy and biased reporting by the News and Guide.

Mike Koshmrl Staff
Mike Koshmrl

Tim, I know Greg Herrick and used that term because I know he’s gone to blows with the FAA in the courts, going all the way to the Supreme Court, prior to suing Jackson Hole Airport three times over the FBO issue. He has a track record of winning. It’s an adjective that I used because it’s a fact that adds to the story. If you’d like to discuss the issue further feel free to call me. 952-412-7344.

Tim Rieser

Mike,

You clearly have no idea what the word means. None whatsoever. It’s derisive, and it, of course, adds nothing to the story whatsoever unless showing your bias “adds to the story”.

For your information, appealing a decision is not a separate lawsuit. So he has not sued three times. Just because you “know him” has nothing to do with whether you impugned his character such as you’ve done. You should take the word out of your story and apologize. The NAG has a history of this.

If you’d like to discuss this further you can call me at 307-699-2233.

JEROME VASSAR

JHNG, try leaving the “litigious” label out of the story and let your readership form their own opinions based on the “facts” you provide in the future.

Mike Koshmrl Staff
Mike Koshmrl

Jerome, I know Greg Herrick and used that term because I know he’s gone to blows with the FAA in the courts, going all the way to the Supreme Court, prior to suing Jackson Hole Airport three times over the FBO issue. He has a track record of winning. It’s an adjective that I used because it’s a fact that adds to the story. If you’d like to discuss the issue further feel free to call me. 952-412-7344.

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