Five months after the company suddenly pulled its operations out of the southern Kenai Peninsula, Grant Aviation is facing a lawsuit from the City of Homer. Grant owes the city about $20,000 in unpaid bills.
Grant Aviation had only been operating out of Homer for about three years when they abruptly left in February. Homer City Manager Walt Wrede says the city was very surprised to hear the news.
"We thought that things were going well for them here," he said. "We found out about them leaving through the newspaper. They didn't contact us ahead of time to let us know."
Grant also pulled out of Valdez in February, under similar circumstances.
Wrede says the company owes the City of Homer about $20,000 in back rent for its spot at the Homer Airport. He says the company was four or five months behind on rent when it pulled out of town.
Wrede says that after several unsuccessful attempts to get in touch with officials from Grant Aviation, the city is now preparing a lawsuit against them to reclaim the money.
"They've been unresponsive so they're leaving us with little choice," he said.
Representatives from Grant Aviation did not respond to requests for comment for this story. The company has been operating in Alaska since 1971. According to its website, Grant currently owns a fleet of 20 small aircraft, operating in several Alaskan communities, including Anchorage, Kenai, Bethel, Dillingham and Dutch Harbor.
Wrede says the City of Homer has yet to file its lawsuit and he’s still holding out hope that it won’t come to that. He says the absence of Grant Aviation, combined with the departure of two of the airport’s three car rental agencies, has left a hole on the finances for the airport terminal.
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. Scott Bloom is the City Attorney for Kenai. He says that since that that judgment, Grant has been making installment payments on the money owed but they are still behind.