Town of Mammoth Lakes staff continues to move forward on plans to bring commercial air service back town. The effort to fly large commercial jets into an expanded airport facility went down in flames after a court battle. Now, with a scaled down plan to provide air service for ski season next winter, there is another lawsuit in the mix. Assistant Town Manager Karen Johnston reports that this time around, the lawsuit shouldnt stop progress on the airport, but the legal fees are going to be expensive.
The lawsuit this time is a contractual dispute between the Town and Hot Creek Aviation over land use at the airport. Johnston reports that the lawsuit is a completely separate issue from the air service project at this time, but so far the lawsuit has cost the Town $650,000 in legal fees.
In the meantime, work continues to finish federal and state environmental documents, which are the key to the operation. These are expected to be finished in April. Conversion of a maintenance facility into a terminal depends on finishing up the EIS and the CEQA work, though this re-model job did go out to bid this week.
Johnston also explained that the prospective airline, Horizon Air, needs the final outcome so that the company can line up the planes needed and market the route.
Johnston reports that the airport project is still on track for air service in December of 2008. Clearly there are still a lot of ifs left in this ongoing saga.