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Gerald R. Ford International Airport moved one step closer to its planned transition from county governance to airport authority governance this morning.
The Gerald R. Ford Airport Authority, or GFIAA, and the Kent County Board of Commissioners reached three agreements, which are required by the Federal Aviation Administration, or FAA, to transfer control of the airport from the county to the airport authority.
The agreements will take effect upon the FAA’s approval of the transfer, which is expected to occur on July 1.
The agreements needed in the GFIAA’s FAA application include:
A Lease and Asset Transfer Agreement, transferring the airport’s assets, buildings, fixtures, equipment, personal property, employees and financial obligations of the airport from the county to the authority.
An Assignment and Assumption Agreement, transferring the rights, titles and interests under all Passenger Facility Charge Records of Decision and all outstanding grant agreements between the FAA and the county.
An Intergovernmental Services Agreement, continuing some county services and operational support to the authority for up to 30 months from the effective date (unless extended by mutual agreement).
Kent County has owned and governed the airport for 52 years, but recently it was determined the airport would be better served by moving to an airport authority governance model.
“We believe an airport authority will create a stronger business model that will lead to better customer service and foster more air service development,” said Dan Koorndyk, chair, Kent County Board of Commissioners.
The process to transfer the airport to an authority started in 2014 and required state legislative approval, which was granted earlier this year.
Brian Ryks, executive director of Ford airport, said moving to an airport authority governance model would give the airport greater flexibility to develop policies and procedures and greater opportunities for collaboration.
“We are fortunate to have leaders who understand the challenges of this industry and are willing to work with us, knowing that in the end, what benefits the airport will benefit our entire region,” Ryks said.
Kent County Commissioner Roger Morgan, who is also the chair of the GFIAA board, acknowledged the work done by the previous airport board to make this morning’s agreements a reality.
“Credit goes to the previous airport board for having the foresight and wisdom to prioritize this effort,” Morgan said.