It’s been ten months since Grant Aviation pulled its services out of Homer, leaving behind disgruntled former customers and a $20,000 debt with the City of Homer. But the company has now settled with the city, agreeing to pay $25,000 to avoid litigation.
When Grant Aviation pulled out of Homer in February, it still had several months left on its lease for its space at the city-owned Homer Airport. It was also about five months behind on its lease payments, totaling about $20,000.
In July, the city filed a lawsuit seeking to reclaim the money owed by Grant. But thanks to an out-of-court settlement, both parties will avoid the courtroom.
Homer City Manager Wrede says the city didn’t get back all of the money that could’ve been owed if Grant had fulfilled its contract but it did get more than the $20,000 the company owed in back rent at the time it pulled out of Homer.
"We thought (it) was a reasonable outcome," said Wrede. "We're really happy that the issue has been resolved and we hope that we can get another airline back in."
Wrede says the $25,000 figure is a compromise. In court, the city could’ve been awarded significantly more than that amount but the settlement allows the city to avoid the extra cost of pursuing litigation. He says the loss of the airline has not only left Homer travelers with fewer options, it’s left a hole at the airport facility.
Homer is not the only city that has had to take Grant to court over unpaid bills. In February, the City of Kenai secured a judgment in District Court for more than $56,000 in terminal lease payments and landing fees owed by Grant. Kenai City Attorney Scott Bloom says that since that that judgment, Grant has been making installment payments.
Grant Aviation has been operating in Alaska since 1971. According to its website, the company currently owns a fleet of 20 small aircraft, operating in several Alaskan communities, including Anchorage, Bethel, Dillingham and Dutch Harbor.