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SPG tenants upset about national influx

A proposal that would award national vendors retail space in a new terminal at St. Petersburg’s !Albert Whitted Municipal (SPG) has upset long-time supporters of the airport who say the city should give preference to aviation companies already operating there, according to the St. Petersburg Times.

Among the contenders for space in the new terminal, which should open this year, are an aircraft taxi service that isn’t yet open for operation and a national rental car company.

Thomas Hurley, owner of Bi-Plane Rides, told the paper “they are trying to attract new businesses. They don’t care about the people who are already here at all. They don’t like us because we are the ones who fought to keep the airport open.”

The new terminal will have two counter spaces on the first floor and an aviation-themed restaurant on the second floor. One of the counters on the first floor will likely go to Bay Air Flying Service, which has provided fuel and other services a the airport for decades. The other, city officials told the Times, could be split among several applicants, including Avis Rent A Car, DayJet, the aircraft taxi service, and Bay Air Charter and Bi-Planes Rides, which both currently operate at the airport.

Richard Lesniak, airport manager, told the Times officials have tried to be “unbiased and make sure it’s a competitive field for everybody and judge them based on their proposals and make sure everyone got a fair shake.”