Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Runway extension a priority at Richard B. Russell Airport (KRMG), Rome, Georgia

Richard B. Russell Regional Airport Manager Mike Mathews told the Rome Optimist Club Monday that the lack of a 7,000-foot runway has prevented the community from bringing in two potential industrial prospects at the airport. 
(Doug Walker / RN-T.com

The lack of a 7,000-foot runway at Richard B. Russell Regional Airport may have cost Rome two potential industrial prospect several years ago, according to airport Manager Mike Mathews.

“They needed 7,000 feet for insurance purposes,” Mathews said in a presentation to the Rome Optimist Club at the airport Monday afternoon.

Mathews declined to specify who the two prospects were but said that both were aircraft-related businesses.

Greater Rome Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Al Hodge confirmed Mathews’ comments during a phone interview with the Rome News-Tribune.

“It has prevented us from getting some aviation-related manufacturers,” said Hodge. “But we’re not looking to get an aerial distribution center, not like FedEx or UPS.”

Floyd County Manager Jamie McCord said late Monday that the 1,000-foot addition to the main north-south runway at the airport is still being considered for SPLOST funding.

McCord said the project is budgeted at $5,761,000 and is one of 19 projects still being considered by the committee evaluating the possible SPLOST entries.

“It’s equally important for virtually every existing industry as far as safety goes,” McCord said.

Mathews said that if the airport were to attract a major industry, it would more than likely be located on a 30-acre tract on the east side of Admiral John Towers Field.

“It’s like a small city inside of a fence,” Mathews told the civic group. The entire airport is managed by Floyd County and administered by a 5-member airport commission.

The county manages the fixed-based operations, which include hanger rentals and fuel sales.

“We want to be self-sufficient, not a burden on the taxpayers of Floyd County,” Mathews said. He told the Optimist group that the airport has been turning a profit during most of the last ten years.

“We’ve been making a little bit, about $100,000 a year,” Mathews said.

Most of the revenue comes from hangar rentals, fuel sales and land leases. However, the bottom line got a big boost from the inaugural Wings Over North Georgia air show that resulted in close to $55,000 in fuel sales last year.

The show will return Oct. 12-13 with the Black Diamond Jet Team and GEICO Skytypers Air Show Team among the headliners.

Mathews said general aviation activity has been down through the economic slump of the last several years but said that corporate traffic has remained strong.

“We’re all about customer service and I push that with our line folks,” Mathews said. “We literally roll out a red carpet (for the corporate clients).”

As for the general aviation pilots, Mathews said that he has tried to undercut other airports when it comes to fuel prices.

The airport manager said the airport typically handles 50-60 flight operations per day.

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