Jackson Hole Aviation

Private planes sit outside Jackson Hole Aviation.

Jackson Hole Airport’s planned purchase of Jackson Hole Aviation could be back on the table now that the Wyoming Supreme Court has ruled for the airport, deeming the acquisition legal.

Several local pilots — Greg Herrick, Richard Sugden and Brent Blue — challenged the 2018 purchase, arguing that the airport’s use of revenue bonds to purchase the intangible assets and goodwill of a private business clashed with state statute. Teton County District Court Judge Timothy Day disagreed in February, and on Tuesday the state’s highest court affirmed that determination.

“The district court correctly interpreted Wyo. Stat. 10-5-101(a) when it held the term ‘other property’ authorized the use of revenue bonds for purchases of both tangible and intangible property,” Justice Kari Gray wrote in the opinion.

Jackson Hole Airport Director Jim Elwood said he was “certainly pleased” with the ruling, which supported the airport board’s decision “on all counts.”

The decision opens the door to again bringing the airport’s lone fixed-based operator in-house, which the Jackson Hole Airport’s town and county-appointed board unanimously agreed to do in 2017. A purchase agreement, at the time for $26 million, was primed to close in May 2018, but has been delayed since then due to the pilots’ financing complaint and a number of other legal disputes that have since been settled.

“We’ll see where the conversation takes us moving forward,” Elwood said. “One of the amendments to the asset purchase agreement allowed for further discussions pending the outcome of the litigation. Now that that’s been resolved, I suspect we’ll have some follow-up discussions with Jackson Hole Aviation after the first of the year to see whether there’s an opportunity to move forward.”

Read the full story in this week's edition of the News&Guide, on newsstands now. 

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 for 7 years. A native Minnesotan, he arrived in the West to study environmental journalism at the University of Colorado.

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