City airport fuel sales up, runway work planned
GLENWOOD AIRPORT ANNUAL FUEL SALES
2014 — 20,041 gallons
2013 —16,377 gallons
2012 — 18,120 gallons
2011 — 20,510 gallons
2010 — 25,722 gallons
2009 — 24,795 gallons
2008 — 26,120 gallons
2007 — 32,576 gallons
2006 — 34,353 gallons
2005 — 32,719 gallons
Source: Glenwood Springs Municipal Airport
Glenwood Springs Municipal Airport last year saw a 22 percent increase in fuel sales that likely can be attributed to lower prices and the addition of a skydiving adventure company that began operating out of the facility over the summer.
That upward trend, combined with a recent fee adjustment, should help put the city airport on solid footing for 2015 as a major runway repaving project is expected to commence, said Glenwood Springs Transportation Manager Geoff Guthrie, who oversees airport operations.
The city’s airport enterprise fund has struggled to stay in the black since the recession hit in 2008, as fuel sales, which account for three-quarters of the airport’s annual revenues, have lagged.
Last year, the small-craft airport was awarded $360,000 from the state’s Discretionary Aviation Grant Program to help repave the single runway and apron area, which was last done in 1962, Guthrie said.
But the grant requires a $40,000 local match, money the city has not been able to budget based on revenues.
City Council approved an expense budget for the airport this year of just over $187,000, including $50,000 for the runway and related work.
Guthrie said he originally projected a continuing decline in revenues from fuel sales, from around $92,500 last year to $86,000 this year.
That projection was made before the airport landed Roaring Fork Skydivers, which began running its planes out of the facility, offering tandem sky dives for tourists and other adventure-seekers in July.
Company owner Jeremy Divan said he had a successful inaugural season, providing thrills for between 700 and 800 people. Operations start up again in March, he said.
“I know [the city] was happy to have me out there, and I’m happy to be there,” said Divan, who operated out of the Boulder Municipal Airport for a little over three years before relocating to Glenwood Springs.
“It’s a great fit for what I do and for the whole community, which really is one of the most fun places to live,” Divan said, referencing the 2011 “Most Fun Small Town” designation for Glenwood by Rand McNally and USA Today.
A regular operator such as Divan’s outfit boosts fuel sales for the host facility, he said.
“When we were in Boulder we were one of the largest consumers,” Divan said, adding he spent $42,000 on airplane fuel his last year there.
SALES TAKE FLYING LEAP
Indeed, fuel sales at the Glenwood airport were up 22 percent in 2014 from the previous year, according Guthrie.
The airport sold 20,041 gallons last year of the single fuel grade it sells, 100 Low Lead Avgas, which is the main fuel used by the single- and twin-engine planes that the local airport serves.
That amount was up from a post-recession low of 16,377 gallons sold in 2013, but still somewhat off the pre-recession high of more than 34,000 gallons sold in 2006, Guthrie said.
One reason for the increase in volume sold is probably the rapid drop in fuel prices in general nationwide since last summer, he said.
The Glenwood facility now sells Avgas for $5.01 per gallon. That is less than the average price for the six-state southwest region of $5.83 per gallon, according to the most recent prices posted at 100LL.com, a resource used by airplane pilots to track fuel prices.
While increased sales volume at lower prices doesn’t necessarily translate to a significant increase in revenues, Guthrie said the presence of a regular operator such as Roaring Fork Skydivers certainly does.
“I can’t pinpoint the exact cause for the increase in sales, but we will continue to welcome that increase in 2015,” he said.
While fuel sales account for most of the airport’s revenues, the other 25 percent or so comes from user fees. Those fees were also recently increased in order to help cover the budget, Guthrie said.
The fee hikes included an increase in the annual hanger space lease and tie-down fee for planes stored at the airport from $530 to $550, and an increase in the annual airport user fee from $460 to $480.
The temporary, monthly tie-down fee also increased from $60 to $70, while the nightly fee of $9 remained the same.
RUNWAY WORK SLATED
Meanwhile, Guthrie said the city intends to proceed with the planned runway and apron-area repaving this summer.
While state funding for the Aviation Grant Program has been cut for 2015, Guthrie said he has been assured that previously awarded grants are not affected. The grants are funded entirely by a tax on aviation fuel sales collected at all Colorado airports.
The grant for the Glenwood airport was awarded based in part on the Colorado Department of Transportation’s 2013 Economic Impact report for the facility.
Although the airport by itself employs only a part-time manager, the state’s report determined that the Glenwood facility generates roughly $3.9 million for the local economy, including 36 direct and indirect jobs and about $1.6 million in wages.
The study factored in airport administration, operation and maintenance, as well as the activities of airport tenants and related aviation services.
Guthrie said the repaving of the runway and apron will be a major upgrade for the facility.
“The taxiway underwent an extensive crack seal and overlay in 2009, but both the runway and apron asphalt pavements date to 1962,” he said.
A 2013 inspection gave the apron pavement a rating of 48 of 100 possible points, and the runway pavement was rated 60 of 100. The apron in particular, which is where the based aircraft are tied down, has suffered from extensive cracking in the existing pavement, Guthrie said.
After the 2009 repaving of the taxiway, it still scores 93 out of 100 in the state inspection, he said.
“So it shouldn’t be due for repaving for quite some time,” Guthrie said. “We hope the new runway and apron pavement to be completed this summer will last as long as the existing one has.”
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