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Series of factors combine to push Cape airport revenue higher

Friday, April 28, 2006

One of the biggest challenges facing the airport is a lack of hanger space.

Revenue at Cape Girardeau Regional Airport is projected to be at an all-time high thanks to a lease agreement with Commander Premier Aircraft, a federal grant for a fourth round-trip flight and high fuel prices.

"I would say we're very healthy, we're growing by leaps and bounds," said manager Bruce Loy.

Airport revenue for the fiscal year ending in June is projected to be $748,997; up 85 percent from the previous year. That figure is projected to climb to almost $900,000 in fiscal year 2006-2007.

Commander Premier Aircraft Corp. has begun paying a yearly lease at a rate of $138,000 for the upcoming fiscal year. The lease allows the company to operate from what was previously known as the Renaissance Aircraft hanger.

Carl Gull, vice-president of operations for Commander, said the plant's service center is open and doing repairs as well as mandatory preventative maintenance on aircraft. Gull also said the company is awaiting FAA approval to begin the on-premise part sales and production which will be the bulk of Commander's operation.

Gull said the company will hire 15 to 20 employees once production starts in July.

Grant money boost

The regional airport also received almost $281,000 in grant money from the federal government used to facilitate the fourth round-trip weekday flight to St. Louis. The money comes from a small communities air service development program run by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Loy said the money is being used primarily for marketing in print media and television spots.

The airport also makes money on fuel from its on-site FBO operation. Fuel revenue is expected to rise 26.3 percent in the upcoming fiscal year because of high retail prices per gallon. But Loy said the airport attempts to attract customers by keeping prices competitive with other airports.

"We call the other airports in the region on a monthly basis to adjust our rates. Ours is probably not the cheapest, but it's not the most expensive either," he said. "We try to make it as attractive as possible, pilots look up prices on the Internet. If you're flying you usually know where to go for good prices."

Loy said one of the biggest challenges facing the airport is a lack of hanger space. "We really have no space," he said. "There has been a waiting list to get in, but people have almost stopped putting their names on just because they weren't moving up on that list ... . Expansion is going to be our next big challenge."

With continued growth, Loy hopes to pass the 10,000-passenger mark which would make Cape Girardeau eligible for $1 million in annual federal funds. The Cape Girardeau Regional Airport currently averages approximately 7,500 passengers per year.

tgreaney@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 245


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