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Redmond Airport facing major contract spat


An immediate departure for Redmond’s only aviation fueling company could leave the airport in limbo. The city says it is for the sake of keeping the airport’s crucial federal grants.

On Tuesday night, the Redmond City Council voted to give Butler Aircraft Services 90 days to cease operations at Roberts Field (Redmond Municipal Airport). Butler is currently the only fuel service operator at RDM.

“The implication is that you’d have the largest airport east of the Cascades shut down,” attorney Martin Hansen said Wednesday.

Hansen is representing Butler Aircraft Services in a lawsuit against the city of Redmond. Butler filed a complaint to a circuit court on Feb. 6for $9 million, claiming the city’s move breaches the contract signed by both sides in July of last year.

Hansen said the city told the company the sooner they leave, the better. However, he and Butler are sticking to the contract.

“We’re going to provide fuel there, regardless of the demands of the city, which would essentially shut down the airport this afternoon,” Hansen said.

Prior to the signing of the contract, the city changed its standard of expectations for fueling standards.

City Manager Keith Witcosky said the newer standards were set to appease the Federal Aviation Administration. But Butler wasn’t on board with the changes.

“Their lawsuit is the result of some disagreements to come into conformity to our minimum standards,” Witcosky said.

He estimates that the FAA pays for about 95 percent of improvements to the airport, including the $20 million runway-paving project.

“In order to be eligible for those federal resources, we have certain obligations that have to remain in place, and one of those has to do with fueling,” Witcosky added.

The contract disputes leading to a wealth of disagreements, but both sides say the back-and-forth battle has yet to truly take off.

“It’s going to court,” said Hansen. “Until the city goes back on the words that they wrote and signed, until they go back into compliance, we’re going to court to enforce those agreements.”

Witcosky said, “It’s the beginning of a fairly lengthy and interesting story.”

Both sides also agree the battle won’t affect flights at Redmond in the interim. Butler will continue to fuel aircraft over the next 90 days, and the city manager expressed confidence that once they finish, services will continue through Redmond Municipal Airport.

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