SHALIMAR -- An attorney representing Okaloosa County plans to file a lawsuit later this week against Vision Airlines to recoup more than $146,000 in unpaid fees.
Last month, the Okaloosa County Commission voted to sue Vision Airlines if the discount carrier did not pay its debt, or at least develop a new payment schedule, before the end of the year.
“Disappointingly, we did not receive payment or a confirmed payment plan by Vision Airlines by the December 31, 2012, deadline,” Okaloosa County’s airports director Greg Donovan wrote in an email. “There was some phone conversations between our finance manager and their CFO just prior to the deadline but no actionable effort on their part.
“So, as directed by the Okaloosa Board of County Commissioners, it is now in the hands of our attorneys, who will be filing suit this week.”
Vision Airlines is delinquent in paying $146,974 to the airport. The vast majority of that is $117,660 in unpaid passenger facility charges. The other $29,313 comes from unpaid utilities, rent and fuel for its ground servicing equipment, as well as late fees.
Harry Chiles, an attorney with the Tallahassee law firm of Nabors, Giblin & Nickerson, said Vision Airlines will have 20 days to file a response to the lawsuit after they are served paperwork.
A $4.50 passenger facility charge is collected by each airline for every paying passenger that flies out of Northwest Florida Regional Airport. The airline keeps 11 cents from each charge for collecting the fee but is supposed to pay the remaining $4.39 to the airport within 30 days after the end of the month in which it is collected.
Vision Airlines started offering flights at Northwest Florida Regional in December 2010 but did not make its first passenger facility charge payment until October 2011, when it sent a $55,000 payment. The airline then agreed to a plan to make weekly payments of $25,000, which would have paid off the debt in only 11 weeks.
After that, though, the payments slowed and eventually stopped altogether. Vision also stopped communicating with the airport and did not return messages seeking comment on this story.
Vision owes similar debts in other cities it served, including Louisville, Ky.; Gulfport, Miss.; Little Rock, Ark.; and Baton Rouge, La.
Contact Daily News Business Editor Dusty Ricketts at 850-315-4448 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @DustyRnwfdn.