Castle & Cooke Unlawfully Operating, Promoting Itself as Fixed Based Operator at Van Nuys Airport, Says Lawsuit

Dépèche transmise le 26 août 2009 par Business Wire

LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Castle & Cooke Aviation Services, Inc. has been unlawfully operating and marketing itself as a Fixed Based Operator (FBO) at Van Nuys Airport, flouting rules restricting its authority to fuel aircraft, according to a lawsuit filed today in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

The complaint, filed on behalf of Maguire Aviation, Inc. the largest of four companies authorized to operate at Van Nuys Airport as an FBO, notes that Castle & Cooke Aviation, part of a real estate conglomerate, is “misleading the public and/or the general aviation community” by holding itself out via Web sites and aviation trade publications as an FBO at Van Nuys when the company isn’t authorized to do so.

The lawsuit underscores concerns expressed in a letter sent July 1, 2009, to Castle & Cooke by Los Angeles World Airports officials after they discovered the company was holding itself out as an FBO at Van Nuys, the world’s busiest general aviation airport. The letter, sent by LAWA Deputy Executive Director Debbie L. Bowers and cited in the complaint, orders Castle & Cooke to immediately stop referring to itself as an FBO at Van Nuys and to limit its operations to what is authorized under the master lease for its parcels.

Rules authorizing FBOs to provide aircraft services are aimed at mitigating environmental impacts on neighbors, ensuring aircraft safety and promoting the economic health of airport businesses. According to the lawsuit, because Castle & Cooke doesn’t meet the minimum standards for FBOs it cannot fuel transient aircraft based elsewhere as well as jets that don’t use its hangar space. Instead, the complaint states, Castle & Cooke should limit its operations to “self-fueling” of its own aircraft and aircraft housed at its own facilities.

But, according to the lawsuit, evidence shows that Castle & Cooke has been purchasing and selling substantially more fuel than it would need if it were just self fueling. Castle & Cooke delivered 10% of the 23.4 million gallons of fuel sold at Van Nuys Airport in 2007, 12% of the 19.3 million gallons sold in 2008 and 10% of the 3.4 million gallons sold in the first quarter of this year, the lawsuit states.

Among the things LAWA’s Bowers specifically asked of Castle & Cook in July was to remove references on its Web site suggesting it is an FBO at Van Nuys Airport, to stop marketing itself as one of the airport’s FBO facilities and to take reasonable measures to make sure it is not referred to in the media as an FBO at the airport.

Said Robert F. Maguire III, chairman of Maguire Aviation: “These rules are in place to protect the environment, ensure aircraft safety and to benefit the financial health of businesses that make a living at the airport. We regret we had to take this action, but felt it was necessary to stop these abuses. The legitimate FBOs at Van Nuys have suffered because Castle & Cooke has subverted the rules, illegally siphoning off revenues from all of us and demanding favorable treatment for years. We support the current LAWA administration in its efforts to finally hold Castle & Cooke accountable.”

Mr. Maguire noted that Castle & Cooke is now attempting to become a legitimate FBO by circumnavigating LAWA leasing policies and minimum standards. He added that the tactics mirror a similar Castle & Cooke effort in 2004. “This is absolutely unconscionable and represents a sweetheart public giveaway to Castle & Cooke,” Mr. Maguire said.

Business Wire

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