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The Community of Flying

Steve Blonstein, General Manager WVFC

A new “lease” on life 

On April 1, 2017 management of the Palo Alto airport finally changed to the City of Palo Alto.  We’ve been working closely with the airport manager, Andy Swanson, and his staff for the past several months getting ready for this momentous occasion.  Many members have already asked what this all means so here’s my chance to give you an update.

Palo Alto hired property consultants to appraise the value of the various offices and hangars to come up with proposed new rates.  The impact to WVFC is approximately a 50% increase in our monthly rent. Ouch!  That equates to about $3K per month more than we had been paying before., not an insignificant amount.  Most other businesses also received a 50% increase in rent causing one of the flying clubs, Advanced Flyers, to close their doors. While in the short term, WVFC benefits by picking up some planes and maybe some of their members, this doesn’t bode well for the future.  Competition is good and as GA struggles to maintain a foothold in the aviation world, this cannot be a good thing to have flying clubs folding.

You have all seen the new fences and gates go up around the airport.  While no one appreciates the idea of walling off our airport, unfortunately it’s a requirement for the airport to receive the “big bucks” required to upgrade the ramp, the hangars, and the buildings.  This is where Andy and his team show great promise.  While the previous County management starved the airport of money, the City is poised to raise a large sum of money (read many millions of dollars) to revitalize the airport and make it what it should be.

No facilities discussion would be complete without a bathroom update!  Most members had provided feedback over the years that the keys were a hassle.  Now that the city maintains the bathrooms, the keys are gone and some remodeling has already started to take place.  The city will also take over the cleaning of the bathrooms so we should have a better long term experience.

The city has granted WVFC a 2-year extension on our right to operate the Phillips 66 brand fuel franchise.  We will continue to pump fuel into the majority of the fleet at Palo Alto, which helps us keep costs down and thus rental rates as competitive as possible.

Overall, we’re excited about the changes.  The airport would have literally crumbled or sunk into the Bay had it not been transferred.  There will be growth and changing pains, but it will be worth it in the long run.

Fly Safe.