Friday, February 8, 2008

Sun Valley Aviation to be sold

Airport services operator sold to large corporation

Express Staff Writer

Sun Valley Aviation, the longtime Friedman Memorial Airport service operator, is in the process of being sold to the largest U.S. operator of airport service centers, Dallas-based Atlantic Aviation.

The proposed sale was announced Tuesday night at the Friedman Memorial Airport Authority meeting, but without any details.

Later, Sun Valley Aviation General Manager Melidee Wright, who has been with the Friedman operation for 22 of its 23 years at the airport, said that because of the company's long-term lease with Friedman, the sale would need a routine approval from the airport board.

Sun Valley Aviation is part of a three-generation family corporation, 7 Bar Enterprises, based in Albuquerque, N.M. It operates a facility there, at Friedman and at Farmington, N.M. It also has a medical-transportation flight service.

The relatively new, plush, multimillion-dollar Sun Valley Aviation facility at Friedman was built by 7 Bar to replace its aging, smaller installation at the northeast corner of the airport.

Atlantic Aviation, listed on the New York Stock Exchange as Macquarie Infrastructure Co. (NYSE: MIC), owns and operates some 60 fixed-base operations from coast to coast, according to its Web site. In April, it added 24 new operations with acquisition of Mercury Air Centers, the latest in a string of purchases that propelled the company into its dominant position in the airport service industry.

In the Rocky Mountain West, Atlantic Aviation now operates the facility at the Aspen, Colo., airport.

Fixed-base operations at U.S. airports have skyrocketed in aircraft traffic volume, especially since 9/11, as corporations and wealthy celebrities have either purchased or bought shares of luxury private aircraft for security reasons or for travel convenience.

Each July, Sun Valley Aviation is jammed with corporate jets belonging to international media tycoons attending the annual Allen & Co. conference.

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