BEHIND THE HEADLINES

Is there a hangar hang up?

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Q. What is your five-year vision for the Steamboat Springs Airport?

A. As commercial and industrial development move closer to the Steamboat Springs Airport, I see this field playing an even more integral role in the economy of the Yampa Valley more so than it already does.

With a hangar wait list of more than 40 companies and individuals, this growth is almost guaranteed.

The demand already exists to financially support the Steamboat Springs Airport what we are trying to do today is tap that demand.

Over the next few years I see the airport continuing to serve the general aviation, corporate and charter needs of Steamboat Springs and Routt County.

Q. Will the airport ever get commercial service back? Did relinquishing the FAR 139 certificate that allows us to operate commercial service put us in danger of never getting service back?

A. Returning the 139 certificate in no way hampered our ability to attract a scheduled air carrier.

Additionally, holding onto the certificate does not make us any more attractive to an air carrier.

There are several things that need to be done to make us more attractive, however.

Those include increasing competition at Denver International Airport, improving the approach and increasing the runway length at the Steamboat Springs Airport.

These are huge obstacles to overcome before any air carrier would consider utilizing this airport again. If an air carrier did decide to return to this airport, the FAA has stated re-acquiring a 139 certificate would take approximately two months.

Q. How will the airport make money in the future?

A. The airport generates revenues through fuel sales, land and building rent, hangar and tie-down rentals, concessions and miscellaneous revenue.

However, our most productive revenue source is from fuel sales.

The airport is unique in the way we conduct those fuel sales. In our case, we conduct that business (as opposed to private enterprise), so the city receives 100 percent of the fuel sales. By selling more fuel, we can raise a significant amount of revenue where one day, I believe, we can indeed become self-sufficient.

Q. Some City Council members have said we should not try to "grow" our way out of problems at the airport. Is the hangar solution a growth issue?

A. In order to be self-sufficient I do not see any other way but to increase the business at the airport.

The rates and charges paid by our current users are already some of the highest for our type of airport. Currently, the city is missing huge revenue potentials through lost fuel sales.

Building hangars is almost guaranteed to bring the additional business to the facility where the market is already identified and inquiries are received daily.

By basing just a few additional turbo-prop aircraft (aircraft that burn jet fuel but spin propellers), we can increase our revenues substantially.

Q. What will you use the terminal for in the future?

A. We already use much of the terminal for our aircraft fueling and servicing operations.

Additionally, we are in lease negotiations with Mountain Flight Services to create a joint-use facility that would combine hangar space, office and maintenance space, as well as

pilot amenities.

Behind the issue

The Steamboat Springs City Council decided at the end of July to allow Dunn Properties to lease 25 to 30 acres for hangar sites just north of the Steamboat Springs Airport.

The land on which the hangars will be placed is below the surrounding ground level by up to 30 to 40 feet in some places, meaning the developer will have to do a lot of infilling to make the site developable.

The hangars will allow the airport to make money from ground leases and the sale of fuel to planes from its Fixed Base Operating fueling operations.

In addition, the airport has too few hangar spots for people to park their airplanes, especially in the winter when airplanes are left to collect ice by the side of the runway.

The ordinance to approve the lease needs to be read one more time by City Council before it is adopted.

Since losing airline service in 1995, Steamboat Springs Airport has been losing $500,000 per year in operations and debt service, Airport Manager Matt Grow said.

City Council President Kevin Bennett has said he didn't think it was a good policy decision for the city to continue to try to "grow its way out" of problems at the airport.

He said the decision to lease hangar space was just another long-term commitment at the airport and another decision like the one to build a now-empty terminal in 1992 that could come back to haunt the city.

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