Council asserts support of SSA |

Council asserts support of SSA

Committee will review airport

Avi Salzman

— If there is a way to make the Steamboat Springs Airport a profitable enterprise without commercial service, the city is poised to find it.

The City Council made it very clear Tuesday night it would not be shutting down the airport or changing its use despite the deficit the facility is running in right now and the limits to who it can serve.

In front of a highly supportive crowd of pilots and business owners, the council asserted it wants to help city staff make decisions that will increase revenue and opportunities at the airport.

All members of the council agreed the airport was extremely important for reasons ranging from commerce and tourism to search and rescue and air ambulances.

Among the decisions the city may now make is signing a hangar lease deal with Dunn Properties, which wanted to make a deal to build hangars earlier this year. The city can also make money on fuel sales at its fixed-base operation and may rent out the terminal.

Pilots said they were pleased to end the speculation about the airport, allowing them to move on with their business.

“Everything was being held up by this lack of certainty,” said Susan McAllister, the owner of Steamboat Soaring Adventures. “What’s really important is that people know what kind of asset this is to the community.”

With current debt payments of about $400,000 per year for its virtually unused terminal, the city has been in the red with the facility but is creeping back up toward the black.

Debt payments on the terminal will be going down in the next few years, which will help the airport move toward self-sufficiency, said Transportation Director George Krawzoff.

But when will the facility start to pay for itself without city subsidies? Krawzoff thinks that could potentially happen, with the right decisions and low operating expenses, within a couple of years.

In the meantime, the council decided to assemble a citizens group to research the airport and guide further discussion.

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