Victorville stands by airport operations
July 10, 2010 12:04 PM
VICTORVILLE • The runway at Southern California Logistics Airport has perhaps never been busier, with Boeing testing high-profile jumbo jets and a number of major airlines sending grounded planes to Victorville for repainting or temporary storage.
But even as traffic picks up, staffing levels are going down, with the airport’s top two aviation professionals gone and their positions unfilled.
“Today SCLA’s airport safety is hanging by a thread,” Gene Marcinkowski, SCLA’s departing Operations and Security Manager, wrote in a letter sent to City Council and upper management, outlining concerns over current operations. Marcinkowski was one of 23 employees laid off effective July 1, as the city struggled to balance its budget for this fiscal year.
The Federal Aviation Administration has not received any complaints or information about safety concerns at Victorville’s airport, according to FAA spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen, though they have been made aware of recent personnel changes.
Marcinkowski said the “critical mistake” was made in the summer of 2009, when, to save money as part of a larger staff reorganization, Airport Director Peter Soderquist was demoted and Economic Development Director Keith Metzler was put in charge of operations at SCLA.
Not long after, Soderquist left to take a director position at an airport in New Mexico. Now, Marcinkowski said Metzler “tries to make it to the airport twice a week” and that Victorville has shifted from a focus on aviation to a focus on business — a tactic that might make sense financially, he said, but not when it comes to safety or the long-term viability of SCLA.
For more details on safety concerns raised by Marcinkowski and the city’s response, read Sunday’s Press Dispatch. To subscribe to the Daily Press in print or online, call (760) 241-7755, 1-800-553-2006 or click here.
Brooke Edwards may be reached at (760) 955-5358 or at bedwards@VVDailyPress.com.