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"Mechanics at Florida airport faulted for competition"
- From: "Stephen Irwin" <stepheni@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Wed, 9 Nov 2005 01:49:00 -0600
Wednesday, November 9, 2005
Mechanics at airport faulted for competition
A maintenance company at the Zephyrhills airport says it is losing business
to unauthorized mechanics.
By MOLLY MOORHEAD
The St. Petersburg (FL) Times
ZEPHYRHILLS - The move cost him $500,000. Unauthorized competition is
costing J.J. Franco his bread and butter.
Franco, owner of JJ Aeronautics, an aircraft maintenance and repair
business, moved to Zephyrhills Municipal Airport last year after the closing
of Tampa Bay Executive Airport in October. He bought a 12,000-square-foot
building and leased 4 acres.
When he opened last November, Zephyrhills officials called it a boon for the
airport because Franco was providing services, such as jet maintenance, that
were not available before.
But Franco wasn't prepared for the "freelancers," as he calls them, repair
workers who perform annual inspections and mechanical work on planes at the
airport for far less money because they don't have a lease and all the costs
that come with it.
"Here I have no local (clients) because they got a choice of a guy in a
truck," Franco said in an interview.
Franco took his complaint to airport manager Jim Werme but got nowhere.
Werme says he doesn't have policing authority. Franco appealed to the
"My business has been for months hurt badly by the freelancers," he told the
board in a meeting Monday night. "They do anything they want."
The authority voted to send letters to every airport tenant and post signs
warning them that unauthorized maintenance work violates their rental
"If we harass the tenants that are guilty, they're going to leave,"
authority member Patrick Graham said. "It'll bring in new blood."
Only Franco and one other maintenance shop, Seana Aviation owned by Dan and
Rita DeBeer, are authorized to work on airplanes at the airport. People who
rent hangar space for their planes are bound by their rental agreements to
only use those authorized businesses. Rental agreements are 30 days, month
Graham says that should be enough to enforce the rules. If people are in
violation, the authority can choose not to renew.
Furthermore, the airport has a waiting list for hangar space more than 100
"If we remind everybody about the lease, and there's a waiting list, people
should get the message they're going to lose their hangar," authority member
Earl Young said.
Another issue: safety.
"I've been finding parts," Franco told the authority.
Young said he also wants Werme to keep a log of comings and goings at the
airport and for the authority to devise a plan to field complaints and
enforce rental agreements.
"It's a serious issue," Young said.
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