Signature Files Protest over SNA Leasehold Vote

Signature Flight Support has filed a protest with the Orange County Board of Supervisors over a decision that ends the FBO chain’s leasehold at Santa Ana’s John Wayne County Airport (SNA) in California. Citing pricing complaints and a desire to bring in a local fixed-base operator, the Orange County board on January 24 decided to award the leasehold held by Signature at the airport for 20 years to California-based charter, management, and FBO operator ACI Jet. At the same time, the board decided to renew the leasehold of the other FBO at the airport, held by Atlantic Aviation.

In a letter to the county, Signature representatives said that decision “must be overturned” because it violates procurement law. “The selection of ACI was improper, illegal, and ill-advised,” the letter states. “The decision resulted from one attempt after another to circumvent fair and open bidding and meeting requirements.”

The letter charges that the decision “improperly and illegally ignores its established bidding procedures, rendering illusory any evaluation,” and “violated procurement law by failing to identify the criteria upon which it awarded ACI a contract—a clear abuse of discretion.“

The Signature letter further charges that the county provided inadequate notice of its intended action and concealed business under the guise of a closed-session meeting, and that the winning bidder did not meet certain requirements that show financial capability.

Signature noted that it was the highest-ranked bidder under the airport commission’s request for qualifications ranking system, but the board of supervisors “never articulated a basis for why it made its selection decision. The board never explained why it selected ACI over other bidders or the criteria that the board used to make that selection decision.”

The letter also said that the board discussed the matter in a closed session, even though it was not listed on the agenda as a topic. This is in violation of meeting laws, Signature’s letter added.

Signature, which continues to look at numerous options in its dispute over SNA, has not yet received a response from the county. But the board of supervisors is scheduled to meet next on February 14.

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