Saturday, February 24, 2001
The city of Steamboat Springs recently approved plans calling for new hangar space to be built at the airport. The city built a passenger terminal in to accomodate commercial service in 1993 and then lost that service in 1995. With that in mind, city officials are trying to come up with innovative ways to make money through the facility and end the continuous subsidies the city must make to keep the airport afloat. We asked airport manager Matt Grow for his take on the situation and what he expects for the future of the Steamboat Springs Airport.
Q. What do you see as the role of the Steamboat Springs Airport in the next few years?
A. Airplanes do not operate from this facility because of the airport itself. They are here because of the surrounding community, where skiing, hiking, hunting and fishing are just some of the recreational interests that bring visitors through the Steamboat Springs Airport. In addition to the tourist traffic, there are 30 businesses that utilize the airport on a regular basis. 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. How can the City make money on an airport it subsidizes not only for the debt service on the passenger terminal it will be paying off until 2008, but also for airport operations? Can the airport become self-sufficient?
A. The airport generates revenues through fuel sales, land and building rent, hangar rental, tie-down fees, concessions and miscellaneous revenue; however, our most productive revenue source is from fuel sales. The airport is unique because the City, as opposed to private enterprise, operates the FBO (the entity that services and fuels aircraft) allowing the City to receive 100 percent of the fuel sales revenues. By selling more fuel, we can generate a significant amount of revenue, which will lead to our eventual self-sufficiency. To reach that point we need to make the airport more attractive to potential users.
Q. How will hangar development help? Will it bring in more planes? Will it allow the airport to offer new services to the residents of the City and to tourists?
A. 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, in an already identified market and where inquiries are received daily. As the airport manager I am trying to take a creative and innovative approach to hangar development.
More hangars = more planes = more users = increased revenues.
Q. How would increased use of the airport affect residents of the City, particularly those living near the runway?
A. Noise is always a touchy issue. Pilots (especially local pilots) do not intend to create noise to be a nuisance. This is their community as well, and everyone wants to be a responsible neighbor. With published arrival and departure procedures along with compatible and responsible land use, we can minimize those noise impacts and help ensure the community is well informed and educated as to airport operations.
Q. Will we be getting commercial air service back anytime soon?
A. We have no current plans or solicitations from any commercial air carrier to begin service at this airport.
Q. In the meantime, what are your ideas for using or improving the passenger terminal?
A. We use much of the terminal already for our aircraft fueling and servicing operations. In addition, I have received several inquires regarding office space, and other special events utilizing the terminal space. Additionally, Mountain Flight Services is proposing to modify the terminal to better serve the pilot community.