Airline to oil fields sees crimp in business with new security fence

Ron Rouse, owner of Colorado Airlines, hustles to park a Beechcraft airliner carrying oil rig workers that arrived at Grand Junction Regional Airport from North Dakota.



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Ron Rouse, owner of Colorado Airlines, hustles to park a Beechcraft airliner carrying oil rig workers that arrived at Grand Junction Regional Airport from North Dakota.

The security fence being built around the general-aviation section of Grand Junction Regional Airport will hamper Colorado Airlines’ business delivering crews to hydraulic-fracturing sites around the country, the owner said.

Even though it regularly loads crews onto flights about 5:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m., Colorado Airlines needs 24-hour-a-day access to the airport, its owner, Ron Rouse, said.

He has to make occasional flights at odd hours to collect injured workers. He also needs his parking lot to be open for wives or children to collect their cars after crews has driven themselves to the airport for early flights, Rouse said.

Installation of the fence will inconvenience his customers — the companies that employ the workers he flies around the U.S. — and jeopardize his business, Rouse said.

Rouse is one of several voices of complaint against the security-fencing plan.

Local officials said those voices are being heard even as Navigators Way and Aviators Way are being cut for new gates that would restrict access to the general-aviation hangars behind them.

The airport is run by an authority appointed by Mesa County and the city of Grand Junction.

“I’ve probably heard from more constituents on this issue than any other with the exception of the body farm” proposed by Mesa State College, Commissioner Steve Acquafresca said.

The city and county have no direct control over airport operations, but members of both governing bodies are looking into what they can do.

Acquafresca said he is looking into whether the commission’s approval of a grant for construction of what was described as a fence to keep wildlife off airport property might be reconsidered.

“Our board approved a grant for animal fence,” Acquafresca said. The fence now has become a restrictive, high-security barrier, “so it seems the grant proposal was incomplete,” he said.

Acquafresca said he asked the county attorney’s office whether the board has any alternative or recourse against the fence in that case.

Airport officials are aware their tenants are upset, said Councilman Bill Pitts, who represents the City Council on the airport board, said. An airport board committee surveyed the tenants and found 85 to 90 percent of them opposed the new fence as a security measure.

It’s unlikely that, having spent some $2 million so far, the airport is going to abandon construction of the fence, Pitts said. That doesn’t mean the gates will be slammed shut immediately, though, he said.

Even if the fence is completed but the gates are left open, “There is no doubt in my mind that at some point they will close,” said Dana Brewer, owner of Monument Aircraft Service, 2849 Aviators Way.

If the gates close, that means his customers, as well as those of other businesses behind the fence, will be inconvenienced, possibly forcing businesses out.

His office wall bears a handwritten ad from privately owned Mack Mesa Airport encouraging businesses to move there and avoid the hassle of Grand Junction Regional Airport.

“I could go to Mack Mesa,” Brewer said.

Brewer appears to have like-minded company. Mack Mesa Airport Manager Ladd Klinglesmith said he has received several calls from tenants of the regional airport, but none has made plans to move into Mack Mesa.



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