City approves new manager for airport

Russellville Municipal Airport will be under new management after Monday’s city council meeting, as the council approved a new company to operate the facility.

Russellville will take on a five-year contract with Explore Aviation for $51,191.51 per year, the same amount as with previous company, Blue Diamond Aviation. The council agreed to immediately terminate its contract with Blue Diamond, which was not set to end until December 2020.

“July 5 it’ll be 20 years that I have been working at Russellville Airport,” said Blue Diamond owner Harry Mattox. “When I first took over, I said I wanted to make Russellville Airport the Taj Mahal of small airports, and I believe I have done that. I know these guys are going to do a great job.”

Mattox said he informed the city council in December that he was looking at retiring and immediately began working with Explore Aviation owners Chris Williams and Robby Tidwell to ensure the airport was in good hands.

“Harry has done a great job, and we want take what he has built and continue to see it grow,” Williams said.

Mattox said he will still be at Russellville Airport until next year to ensure a smooth transition between companies.

“We are really thankful for Mr. Mattox and the work he has done over there, and we wish him the best,” said Russellville Mayor David Grissom.