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Elizabethton Airport had good year despite down economy
January 28, 2011
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  • The Elizabethton Municipal Airport enjoyed a firm financial standing at the end of fiscal year June 30, 2010, according to audited financial statements.

    A major period of expansion is under way at the airport, including the establishment of a GPS approach, the relocation of the terminal building to the Moody building and the leasing of commercial space to aeronautic concerns. The establishment of the GPS approach has resulted in the airport realizing a marked increase in transient traffic, which continues to grow.

    The airport’s short-term expansion plans include hangar door improvements, runway extension and the addition of another individual T-hangar unit.

    The audit showed that the airport during the past fiscal year received $175,080 from the State of Tennessee and the City of Elizabethton in operating grants in addition to $496,106 from the state in capital grants. The total assets at year-end were $5,639,989 and exceeded the liabilities by $4,696,276. The audit further revealed that operating revenues decreased by 18.4 percent from the previous year.

    The airport’s funding is from hangar rentals, fuel sales and grants from the City of Elizabethton and the State of Tennessee. The audit showed the airport’s condition as strong at year’s end with adequate liquid assets and completed construction of a 12,000-square-foot heated hangar to accommodate additional types of customers. Also, construction was ongoing with the Pierce Street Relocation Project. Manager Dan Cogan said that coupled with the acquisition of new terminal facilities, additional land, full runway utilization and the GPS approach system, more transient customers and business aviation are being realized.

    The airport’s total assets increased by $271,309 with the new additions being the main reason for the increase. Net assets increased by $535,628, which is attributed to the results of operations and capital contributions from the city and state.

    Operating revenue for the airport falls into four general categories: Hangar rentals, fuel sales, operating support from the state and city and flight school revenue. The audit showed that operating revenues were down $228,283 from the previous year, which was attributed to an overall downturn in the air travel industry and the economy in general.

    According to the audit, the airport generated $386,568 from sales of Jet-A Fuel; $125,241 from sales of aviation gasoline; $151,462 from hangar rental; $46,080 from facility rental; $7,575 from vehicle storage; $5,677 in tie-down feeds; $66,894 in plane rental from the flight school; $22,285 from flight school instruction; $2,359 in oil products income; $1,010 in rental car income; $5,384 in sale of pilot supplies; and $2,127 from the fly-in events and catering.

    The largest items in operating expenses were for the purchase of jet fuel ($236,820) and salaries and wages, which totaled $215,860.

    Capital contributions from the State of Tennessee decreased by $342,100 from the previous year, which was attributed to the completion of several projects during the fiscal year. However, management noted that the airport anticipates receiving grant funds from the state to continue to fund maintenance operations and future expansion projects. The airport has received partial funding from the Tennessee Division of Aeronautics for its ongoing runway extension project, including the Pierce Street relocation project. Expenditures to date total $1,465,525, which have been for land acquisition, engineering services, site preparation and paving. Completion of this project is expected this year with an effort to be made to obtain further funding from the state.

    Also during the past year the airport instituted a bulk rate fuel program offering discounts to aircraft operators for jet fuel and aviation gas. The motivation for the bulk rate fuel program was to encourage operators to base at the airport, attract more corporate users and provide cash flow for the airport as well as increase fuel sales. Cogan reported that as of June 30, eight customers were utilizing the bulk fuel program.

    Operating expenses decreased by $109,653 from the previous year “due in large part to a very aggressive review of all operating expenses and activities by management, resulting in actions being taken to reduce overhead costs such as insurance, professional fees, office supplies and telephone costs.”

    Cogan said the airport continues to strive to provide adequate and efficient aviation services to its customers.

    “While operating revenues decreased this year, it is worthy to note that the industry overall experienced a decline of 40 to 60 percent nationwide. Thus, even though the airport may have had a slightly down year when compared to the past, it still managed to do much better than most small airports of its kind in the nation,” Cogan said. He noted that by offering more aviation services such as airplane washing, airplane lavatory service, subcontracting pilots for temporary assignments and, hopefully, the establishment of some broker services in the future, the outlook for the airport appears to be one of continued growth and success.

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