Sunday, December 22, 2013

Airport to add large plane landing fee: Range Regional (KHIB ), Hibbing, Minnesota

HIBBING — Large planes landing at Range Regional Airport (RRA) on or after June 1, 2014, will be subject to a new fee.

The Chisholm-Hibbing Airport Authority (CHAA) recently approved implementing a landing fee starting just less than six months from now. The vote was 5 to 0, as Director Veda Ponikvar was absent from the meeting.

The landing fee will be 75 cents per 1,000 pounds for aircraft weighing 12,500 pounds and over.

The landing fee will be new for large aircraft, as RRA currently only charges a ramp fee, said CHAA Executive Director Shaun Germolus. The published rate is $30, and is waived if gas is purchased from RRA’s fueling facility.

Germolus recommended the new landing fee following a review of RRA’s 2014 budget with an aviation consultant. As a result of the exercise, funding shortfalls were realized in the airfield financials and terminal financials.

One option would be to increase rent within the terminal for tenants such as Delta Airlines, Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and car rental companies. Tenants are charged per square foot.

However, Germolus said now is not the time to change those rates given the CHAA’s work toward renovating and expanding the terminal. He also noted that RRA’s Essential Air Service (ESA) contract, which provides a subsidy for the airline and its services, is up this May. He said he plans to dig deeper into possibly adjusting rental rates between now and then.

“We will look at it, and determine a fair market rate for space in the terminal,” added Germolus.

A common practice employed by many airports is charging a landing fee, and would be a fitting source for increasing revenues in airfield operations, he said.

RRA currently charges a landing fee of 36 cents for Delta, which provides 12 flights per week, and Sun Country, which does a charter about every six weeks. Other commercial planes, executive jets and other large aircraft are not charged.

Once implemented, all aircraft 12,500 pounds or more will be charged 75 cents per 1,000 pounds.

“We don’t want to penalize the little guy,” said Germolus.

Those working the FBO (fixed-base operation) could look up the weights of the various types of large aircraft upon arrival and determine the landing fee based on what’s published, he said. The revenue would then go toward the FBO operations, and would be in addition to the ramp fee.

The Duluth Airport charges a landing fee based on a tiered system, according to Germolus.

“Ours has been at 36 cents for a few years now, so we’re behind on this,” he said. “I think that charging 75 cents is reasonable for an airport our size, and I don’t foresee us getting any push back at all.”

President Terry Samsa concurred, adding that it’s intended to support general aviation.

Director Jon Timpane said it’s a revenue source that RRA should be tapping. Samsa agreed.

Timpane made the motion to increase and implement the landing fee. It was seconded by Director Maynard Baratto, and passed unanimously.

Germolus noted that having the fee start on June 1 will also give RRA time to get the word out.