Less than 24 hours after it was charged with grand theft, Vision Airlines paid the money it owed Okaloosa County.
The Nevada-based carrier sent a check for $117,659.98 to Northwest Florida Regional Airport via Federal Express early Tuesday, county Airports Director Greg Donovan said.
“We are very pleased to see the airline take the responsible action and remit passenger facility charges that were collected at time of ticket sale,” Donovan said in an email.
“The airport has been seeking these funds for some time, and we are appreciative of the efforts made by the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office and state attorney’s office to resolve this issue so quickly.”
State Attorney Bill Eddins said he was pleased to hear that Vision had paid the county.
“It is certainly a mitigating factor in the criminal case,” he said. “But it’s premature for me to indicate where this leaves us.”
Eddins said his office was in the process of contacting Vision Airlines to address its situation.
Vision still could face a fine or be penalized for its failure to pay the passenger facility charge revenue to the county in a timely manner, he added.
Eddins said such a fine, which could be as much as twice the amount the company owed, could be assessed only if Vision is tried and found guilty of the grand theft charge or if it agrees to pay the fine under a plea deal.
Vision also could be forced to pay for the cost of the state attorney’s and Sheriff’s Office’s joint investigation.
“We feel like they should pay for the cost of the investigation,” Eddins said.
Vision Airlines owed the county a portion of the passenger facility charges it collected while operating at Northwest Florida Regional from December 2010 to July 2012.
Airlines are required under federal regulations to collect the fees on a monthly basis for each airline ticket issued. In its contract with the airport, Vision agreed to keep 11 cents from each $4.50 passenger facility charge it collected and give the remaining $4.39 to the county.
In 2011, the county made repeated demands that Vision pay the fees. In December 2011, the airline agreed to pay $25,000 per week until the fees were paid, but the county received only a small portion of the money.
Donovan said the money paid to the county Tuesday will be placed in an airport account for passenger facility charges.
“The account is then used to fund capital improvement projects, preapproved debt service, and match grants for facility improvements, specifically at the airports,” he added.
Vision still owes the county a little more than $29,000 in fuel costs, fees for credentialing airport employees and fines for unreturned airline employee credentials, Donovan said.
“Our attorney is working with the airline attorney on resolving the remaining amount owed,” he said.
Contact Daily News Staff Writer Kari Barlow at 850-315-4438 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @KariBnwfdn.