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Cape airport $53,000 in red

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Lack of passenger air service all summer hurt Cape Girardeau Regional Airport's income. So did a disappointing turnout for the ninth annual air festival.

The airport showed a negative $53,604 in revenue between July and September, the first quarter of the city's fiscal year.

Despite the figure, officials expressed optimism that the city will be solidly in the black by the last day of June.

The Cape Girardeau City Council received the news with a quarterly report from finance director John Richbourg on Monday.

Richbourg said three of the city's five funds for income had negative balances by Sept. 30. The General Revenue fund had a $45,158.45 balance, while the Parks and Recreation fund held $9,820.49.

The city's largest source of income is retail sales tax, though fees and fines also add to the city's coffers. Between July and September, the retail sales tax generated $17,718 more than in that same period in 2006.

The air festival, which cost $150,000 to produce, fell short of covering that cost by $37,276. The event drew about 8,000 people, according to airport manager Bruce Loy. He said 6,500 people paid admissions ranging from $10 to $14 for adults and $5 to $6 for children. The show is subsidized with some sponsorships, Loy said.

"That's not to say we don't try our darndest to make money," he said. For the 10th air show, he's exploring partnering with other events, such as Libertyfest, and finding ways to reduce costs while keeping the show entertaining.

City manager Doug Leslie said that while the show did not pay for itself as intended, "it's very beneficial and brings people into the community. You have to weight that expense against the benefit of it."

Chuck Martin, executive director of the Cape Girardeau Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the air show is not the city's biggest event but that it does "fill the hotels and restaurants."

Martin said, on average, an adult visitor to the air show spends $50 in the community for meals and other expenses, not including hotel rooms.

Loy expressed optimism that airport income in the next three quarters will replace the first-quarter negative. Passenger air service started Nov. 18; rent from airport tenant Commander Premier, deferred for the first quarter, was paid starting in the second quarter, Richbourg said.

Loy said he expects another income boost when Commander Premier begins manufacturing planes in 2008, which will require hiring as many as 60 people.

Both Richbourg and Leslie cautioned those reading the report to keep in mind that the first-quarter includes bills for yearlong projects. If retail sales figures hold steady -- the report reflects a 4 percent annual increase over last year -- income will keep slightly ahead of inflation, which in Missouri is at 3.5 percent.

Richbourg said the second-quarter budget report will likely be delivered in February.

pmcnichol@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 127


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Sure hope the airport can recoup some of the lose in the upcoming quarters. I would hate to think the city doesn't mind losing $37,276 in revenue and rationalize it by saying it brings people into the community who spend money elsewhere. I doubt the lose was made up in hotel/restaurant spending.

-- Posted by cubbytodd on Wed, Dec 19, 2007, at 12:16 AM

How much on average does the airport make for the city?

-- Posted by CeilingCatKnowsBest on Wed, Dec 19, 2007, at 12:16 AM

one more question...how does 8,000 people attend an event and only 6,500 pay?

-- Posted by CeilingCatKnowsBest on Wed, Dec 19, 2007, at 12:17 AM

Sponsors of the event will get a handful of free tickets. Not sure if 1500 free tickets are handed out but there are a lot of sponsors.

-- Posted by Dude on Wed, Dec 19, 2007, at 7:12 AM

While I don't condone the city accepting the loss of nearly $40,000 for the airshow, I'm not entirely certain that the airport as a whole should be expected to make money. How much money did Capaha Park make if we were to account for maintenence and upkeep vs. income there?? They are both services provided to taxpayers, subsidized with tax revenue. Having said that, perhaps they should forego the airshow and try to get closer to a break-even point.

-- Posted by flying-d on Wed, Dec 19, 2007, at 7:21 AM

Well said flying-d.

I don't want the city to be in the business of making money, if there is a service which makes money, the private sector should take it, run with it and make the money. The job of the city is to provide services which better the community as a whole which do not make money, like provide parks, recreation, fire and police protection. The Cape area benefits by having an airport and air service, so I don't mind there being a government subsidy for the airport.

-- Posted by Always_Learning on Wed, Dec 19, 2007, at 9:26 AM

There are a lot of projects that the city should be able to run and not expect to make money.

There has been talk about the city pool and the possibility of a water park. I've said this before, but a water park shouldn't expect to make money. Most city pools and water parks (especially in bigger cities) hope to break even. Most expect to have a small loss. Thats not too bad though. Its a service the city is providing to its citizens.

There is a cost to keep citizens happy and to make the city experience in good light. A few losses shouldn't be that big of a deal.

-- Posted by SEMissouri70 on Wed, Dec 19, 2007, at 9:41 AM

As stated earlier, airports, like cities in general, shouldn't be expected to generate income. Maybe breaking even wouldn't be bad, though. In the aviation community, many feel that last year's air show was lacking. The performers weren't up to par, and there were fewer display aircraft. The layout of the display area is more like a "trap" for people to go to the concession areas, not to look at airplanes. Several of the folks that I know who flew in to put their planes on display were very disappointed in that the area that they were parked in, on what's known as the East Ramp, didn't appear to be open for spectators. Maybe the concession area should be relocated, or maybe their needs to be some signs to direct people to the additional aircraft. Each year there have been less and less "fly in" traffic for the airshow, and less airplanes on display. Yes, people come out to see planes in the air, but they also like to walk around and look at planes and talk to the owners. Last year there were several airplanes that were "hidden" on the East Ramp. In that same vein, if the airport manager would apply for a more practical "open field" time during the airshow waiver, there would be more fly-in traffic also. Aircraft flying in for the day of the show might need to leave in order to get home before dark, so closing the field from early afternoon until 10 or 11 at night is a detriment.

-- Posted by gimmeabreak on Wed, Dec 19, 2007, at 1:31 PM

I've never attended the airshow activities because it's always hotter than hell in July. Not much anybody can do about that.

-- Posted by CapeRacer on Wed, Dec 19, 2007, at 4:49 PM

There are always a few problems in my opinion with the air show... first is the heat, they should schedule at an earlier time in the year to avoid the heat, no one wants to pay to stand on asphalt and look up into the sun. Second is Advertising, i maybe heard 1 or 2 radio advertisements for the airshow this year, if i didn;t have to drive by the airport everyday i wouldn't have even realized we had an airshow. Last is the price, I can sit across the street and see as good as a view without paying $14 or $15 dollars to see the same thing as i can for free...

-- Posted by abcd on Thu, Dec 20, 2007, at 3:32 PM

Why don't they sponsor High Roller Nights. You offer private jets for a few friends and fly them to Saint Louis for the Casino's and then back home the same night. You could charge 5-10 thousand a pop and get back in the black.

-- Posted by NoDisclosure on Thu, Dec 20, 2007, at 11:09 PM


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