Saturday, November 30, 2013

Lauderdale Air Show canceled for 2014: Promoters plan to have it back in 2015

Next year's Lauderdale Air Show has been canceled because Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport would have to shut down all its flights during the performances to accommodate it. 

Promoters expect the show to be back in 2015 after the airport's current runway expansion project is completed and the airport has more than one runway for flights to use.

It's been one headache after another for the two-day annual spring air show that came to the city in 2012 — replacing the hugely popular Air & Sea Show that had gone away five years earlier.  

It had to cancel its Sunday show last year because of bad weather. This year, federal budget cuts forced the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds to bow out of performing just weeks before the show. Now, it's the runway construction that has scuttled plans completely.

"We know we can bring it back," air show president Bryan Lilley said. "We've just got to get Mother Nature and the government and everything else to cooperate."

Promoters don't expect a one-year hiatus to hurt the show.

"We can get and we've been able to get the best of the best of what is available to fly," Lilley said. "Fort Lauderdale is a marquee destination."

The performing jets require a five-mile no-fly zone from the center of the show when they perform. That zone crosses the airport's main runway, Lilley said

In the past, the airport has been able to shut down that runway and use a secondary one during the air show, Lilley said. That secondary runway is no longer available because of the construction project. The new runway won't be finished until September.

To accommodate the air show, the airport would have to stop all incoming and outgoing flights for more than an hour each day of the show — and for shorter periods on other days for the teams to practice and prepare.

One option would have been to move the center of the show north, from Sunrise Boulevard to Oakland Park Boulevard. That would move the heaviest crowds into a mostly residential section of the barrier island and away from the main beach area.

"Where are you going to put the crowds? Where are you going to put the traffic?" Mayor Jack Seiler said. "It's not even a realistic discussion."

If not for the runway construction, Lilley said the show had a "soft commitment" from one of the military teams to appear next year.

Branson Airport (KBBG), Missouri: Airport payment OK’d

Branson aldermen voted 5-1 earlier this week to pass a bill on first reading to appropriate money from the tourism fund to pay a $261,000 Branson Airport pay-for-performance bill due Dec. 15.
In the past, the payment procedure has been a point of discussion and concern for the airport, and this most recent bill was no exception.

“The payment to the airport has always been under this cloud of uncertainty because the city has not properly budgeted for these payments,” said Branson Airport Executive Director Jeff Bourk. “In our opinion, this is no way to manage the city’s finances, and no way to run an airport.”

The pay-for-performance agreement, established in 2006 and re-written in 2010, instituted a $8.24 payment per passenger from the city to the airport for bringing tourists to the area.

The majority of the points made by those in favor of the city budgeting for the airport commented on the budget and not the whether the city would appropriate the funds when the bill was on an agenda.

Since the agreement was established, the city has paid $1.8 million to the airport, not missing a payment.

Despite the commentary from Bourk and other citizens urging the city to include the airport payments in the 2014 budget, the board passed the bill without an amendment. The board also passed a bill immediately after approving the appropriation for the $261,000 payment to the airport using tourism tax funds.

The tourism tax is generated from hotels, motels, condominiums, timeshares, food and drinks, and tickets for admission or participation for attractions or shows inside city limits. Three-quarters of the money is used for infrastructure, while the remaining 25 percent of the money is dedicated for marketing.

In the past, the infrastructure portion of the tourism tax has been used on sidewalks and trails, road projects, major water and sewer capital improvements and the Missouri 248/U.S. 65 interchange.

The city’s position on the airport payments has been and remains to be one of consideration upon billing. Alderman Mike Booth elaborated on his thought process.

“In the past, the reason it hasn’t been in the budget is because it has been subject to appropriation and if we had an instances where we couldn’t pay it, we wouldn’t have paid it,” Booth said. “But we’ve done everything we could to find places to pay it from.

“‘Subject to appropriation’ is still there, and I’m not saying that in the future it will never ever be in a budget, but in times where our budget is this tight, I don’t know that you’re going to see it in the budget in 2014.

“Does it mean it’s not going to be paid? It doesn’t mean that at all. But it does mean that if we have to watch how much money we have, if we’re not giving our employees a pay raise, if we’re not buying some of the capital items that we have, does that mean that we’re concerned about how much income and expenses that we’re going to have in our city, the answer is, ‘Yes, we are.’”

Alderman Rick Todd expressed his distaste for the negativity and criticism from the airport, considering the city has made every payment.

The lone vote against the appropriation was from Alderman Rick Davis, who opposes the legal opinion that money from the infrastructure portion of the tourism fund may be used to pay for a project outside city limits.

The final reading of the bill for the appropriation of money for the $261,000 Branson Airport pay-for-performance bill is Dec. 10.