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Pilots group wants city to bond, build hangars

— Steamboat Springs City Council will be looking for ways to strengthen the climate for general aviation at Steamboat Springs Airport Tuesday night while reducing the subsidy from the city budget needed to keep the airport in operation.

Deputy City Manager Wendy DuBord explained that since Continental Express dropped its regular service to the airport in 1994, the only commercial service at the airport came during a four-month period in 1997 when Maverick Airlines was in existence. The loss of revenue from commercial operations has left the city subsidizing the airport with revenue from its general fund.

“Commercial activities previously provided over $300,000 in revenues annually,” DuBord wrote in a memo to City Council. “Without commercial service, there has not been enough revenue to operate the facility without a substantial subsidy form the general fund.”



The airport collected $582,000 in revenues last year, but expenses totaled more than $880,000. That left a shortfall of $299,642, and $206,400 was transferred from the general fund to help cover the gap.

Potential new hangar development and the possibility of returning to a private fixed-base operator (FBO) to service private pilots will be among the topics of discussion as the council devotes the first hour of its meeting to the future of the airport. A group of local pilots, the Northwest Colorado Aviators, has collected information about current revenues and expenditures at the airport, as well as projected costs for improvements. The research conducted by the NWCA will be presented at the work session.



The NWCA formed in November 1998 and currently has 75 members. They assert that the best potential for increased income from general aviation at the airport exists in new hangars for transient twin-engine aircraft, plus more space for locally based aircraft.

They will present a plan, complete with detailed spreadsheets, meant to demonstrate that if the city bonded to build new hangars, plus expand the opportunities for aircraft tie-downs on the runway apron, the city could offset the cost of bonding for the hangars and realize a net return of more than $2.3 million over 30 years. The same projections show a net annual revenue of $100,000 after bond retirement, according to the proposal from the NWCA.

The organization also contends that, once hangar space is available, more pilots will choose to fly here, resulting in increased fuel sales. They also say local businesses will benefit from money spent locally by the pilots and their passengers.

The current waiting list for hangars has 39 names on it, according to the NWCA.

The members of NWCA will ask the council to approve the plan in concept.

— To reach Tom Ross call 871-4210, or e-mail tomross@amigo.net


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