Wicomico County Responds to Bay Land Aviation Feud - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Wicomico County Responds to Bay Land Aviation Feud

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SALISBURY, Md.- The legal battle continues between Bay Land Aviation and Wicomico County after the Salisbury Regional Airport's fuel provider filed a legal complaint on Tuesday.

According to Bay Land Aviation's owner Patrick Nelms, the airport wants him out, and has given him multiple termination letters that will end his ability to provide fuel to air crafts at the airport.

"I employ 13 individuals and if the county is able to succeed in the direction they want to go, 11 of those individuals will probably be terminated," he said.

The original contract Bay Land has with the county is not set to end until 2025, Nelms says, but the county has sent him letters claiming his fuel tanks are too old, and that the services his company offers do not meet the needs of the airport.

But Nelms disagrees and says the county has expressed this, but he claims he has been willing to meet the county in the middle.

"Although maintenance is not a mandated requirement by the FAA, I would be willing to provide it, as long as I had the opportunity to terminate it, if it is not being used."

Nelms says Bay Land did offer maintenance in the past at the airport, until the recession hit back in 2008 and they discontinued the services.

"Had I not terminated it, Bay Land would not have survived."

But the county tells WBOC they are now looking into a Fixed Based Operator who can provide fuel, maintenance, among other services--though they tell WBOC they have no plans to terminate Nelms' lease agreement. Officials tell us, they simply want to attract other competition to the airport. 

"This is a business move," Wicomico County Director of Administration Wayne Strausburg said.

"We're in competition with other airports for both private aviation and passenger traffic, so we're trying to build a better mouse trap and to do that you've got to rethink everything, and you have to look at everything," he said.

"There's really nobody there that we want out, we just want, as I said a better mouse trap."

Weston Young, assistant director of administration, says the county plans to work with Nelms rather than push him out.

"We want flight programs, we want fuel providers, we want maintenance, we want a hanger space, we want to bring in corporate jets and give them a safe place to store their multi-million dollar jets," he said.

Young says bringing in other companies helps makes this possible, and that there is still room for Nelms at the airport.

But Nelms says the opposite and has provided WBOC with legal documents from the county that have, at times, called for termination of the agreement.

The county has yet to provide WBOC with the basis of termination in those letters, but says they are at the moment trying to work with Nelms. 

Now it is up to the courts to decide who is right or wrong, as Bay Land has sought an injunction so courts can determine the airport's future. 

"We have tried on multiple occasions to come to an agreement with the county. The county has not accepted any of our attempts to resolve this so I am asking the court to resolve it."

We spoke with Piedmont Airlines CEO Lyle Hogg who receives fuel from Bay Land. Hogg says he is indifferent to the legal showdown.

"We're a customer of whoever is the fuel provider at the airport. It doesn't really matter to us who provides the fuel, as long as fuel is provided at a reasonable price," he said.

"Right now the cost of fuel at Salisbury is one of the highest throughout our entire system and so we would not like to see any changes that would drive the price higher."





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