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ABQ aviation firm may offer services in Belen

BELEN — The city of Belen is negotiating with an Albuquerque-based company to bring a flight school and other services to the Belen Alexander Airport.

As many as 500 students could soon be studying and training to become helicopter and fixed-wing pilots and instructors at any given time, according to a story in the Valencia County News-Bulletin.

Steve Tomita, the city’s planning and economic development director, told the City Council he is working with Vertical Limit Aviation on a lease agreement for a fixed base operator at the city-owned and operated airport.

“What this is doing is setting forth an operator of the airport. They would have a hangar and services. They would also be running the fuel services, and we would be charging them rates and would increase our revenues,” Tomita said. “What’s also critical is they would be taking over the insurance and all the risk that is part of running an airport. Also, what’s key is that the FBO is an international flight school that will be training pilots for commercial services.”

Doug Christian, founder and owner of Vertical Limit Aviation in Albuquerque, told the council there are a lot of services they provide, including flight training, charters, tours, aerial photography and survey and more.

“We are a 135 commercial operator, so it’s just like Southwest Airlines,” he said. “We have the same certificate but they just carry more passengers. We can pick up passengers from different locations and drop them off.