Public officials celebrated when it was announced that Allegiant Air would return to the Northern Colorado Regional Airport, but the celebration was premature as it was later determined that air traffic control would not be place as soon as necessary to restart flights from the airport. Dan Mika/BizWest

Virtual ATC at NoCo Airport delayed to April, setting back potential Allegiant return

LOVELAND — A contract negotiation between the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and an air-traffic-control contractor has dragged on for months, which could delay the return of Allegiant Travel Co. (Nasdaq: ALGT) to Northern Colorado Regional Airport well into the spring and summer.

Airport director Jason Licon told BizWest that he was last told that FAA and Serco Group PLC (LSP: SRP) signed a contract to staff the virtual air traffic control tower last Friday, just over a week before federal aviation officials were supposed to begin testing the virtual tower.

In a updated statement sent on Feb. 6, the FAA said it now expects to have a temporary mobile tower at the airport by April 2020, and Serco expects to finish hiring and training air traffic controllers in the middle of that month.

The administration said it never approached its testing with the airport as part of a service plan for an airline

Serco did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday afternoon.

Northern Colorado Regional was selected in 2015 as the first test airport for the virtual control tower concept, which uses a series of cameras around the top of a pole to monitor air traffic from the ground instead of a concrete tower where controllers operate from the top.

However, Serco pulled out of negotiations with the airport in early October to provide controllers, prompting Allegiant to pull its planned routes to Las Vegas and Phoenix later that month.

Allegiant said last August that it would restart flight service in November, seven years after ending its original service to the airport in Loveland. Licon previously said the routes could provide an additional $9 million in revenue annually for the airport.

The airline declined to comment, but previously told BizWest that any discussions about relaunching service in Northern Colorado is speculation until air traffic control is established.

Licon said both the airport and Allegiant are in a holding pattern due to the delays in getting controllers trained and the tower’s technology in place.

“There’s a lot of reasons behind it, but this one is questionable,” he said. “We’re working with the air carrier to ensure that we would have something in January, and I guess in (last) November, and then the air carrier learns that we won’t be able to make that deadline … I guess it’s good that the airline decided to postpone indefinitely.”

 

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect that the Northern Colorado Regional Airport is within the Loveland city limits.

LOVELAND — A contract negotiation between the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and an air-traffic-control contractor has dragged on for months, which could delay the return of Allegiant Travel Co. (Nasdaq: ALGT) to Northern Colorado Regional Airport well into the spring and summer.

Airport director Jason Licon told BizWest that he was last told that FAA and Serco Group PLC (LSP: SRP) signed a contract to staff the virtual air traffic control tower last Friday, just over a week before federal aviation officials were supposed to begin testing the virtual tower.

In a updated statement sent on Feb. 6, the FAA said it now expects to have a temporary mobile tower at the airport by April 2020, and Serco expects to finish hiring and training air traffic controllers in the middle of that month.

The administration said it never approached its testing with the airport as part of a service plan for an airline

Serco did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday afternoon.

Northern Colorado Regional was selected in 2015 as the first test airport for the virtual control tower concept, which uses a series of cameras around the top of a pole to monitor air traffic from the ground instead of a concrete tower where controllers operate from the top.

However, Serco pulled out of negotiations with the airport in early October to provide controllers, prompting Allegiant to pull its planned routes to Las Vegas and Phoenix later that month.

Allegiant said last August that it would restart flight…