VERO BEACH — Elite Airways paid its overdue bill to the city Tuesday and plans to resume flights to the municipal airport Friday, officials said.
The move comes as the city council unanimously approved a resolution to charge airport fees for airlines. The new fees apply to all airlines planning to use the Vero Beach Regional Airport terminal.
Elite Airways paid an estimated $16,700 it owed to the city for using the airport between January and March, Airport Director Eric Menger said. Under the new fee agreement, the airline also has to pay a three-month sum estimated at $11,280 into a drawing account in accordance with the resolution.
City Manager Monte Falls said the council expects the payment by Wednesday or Thursday. The advanced payment is part of a checklist airlines must accomplish in order to be considered a permitted carrier.
All airlines planning to use the Vero airport must be up to date on debts and not be in default under any other contract. The airlines must also provide the city with insurance information and the three-month advanced payment.
When all requirements are completed, the city will send the airlines a letter of authorization, granting permitted carrier status, Menger said. Airlines that don’t become permitted carriers can still operate as non-signatory carriers.
After one month, the non-signatory carriers will be issued an invoice for a 30 percent premium on airport charges, Falls said. The carriers will not be able to use the airport if the invoice is not paid after 30 days.
Menger said Elite Airways has already indicated it plans to sign the letter of authorization to use the airport.
In April, the city council terminated its airport usage agreement with Elite Airways because of unpaid bills, which are now paid in full. At the time of the city council’s termination vote, the Maine-based airline grounded all Vero Beach flights in an effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
With the airport fee agreement approved, passengers once again can possibly hop on a plane from Vero to different destinations. Elite Airways’ website showed non-stop flights from Vero to Newark, New Jersey, and from Portland, Maine, to Vero.
Menger said passengers arriving at the airport should wear masks and continue practicing social distancing. The director said all airport employees will also be wearing protective masks.
“Passengers have been asked by Elite Airways to have masks on in order to fly,” Menger said. It was unclear from the airline if passengers without masks would be turned away.
Menger said the department of health will require passengers to fill out forms with questions about international travel. Future passengers should check the airlines’ websites for the latest information.