Recipient of the 1999 Airport Executive Partnership honor relates the Hayward experience
BY John F. Infanger, Editorial Director
PHOENIX — In 1995, the National Air Transportation Association and AIRPORT BUSINESS teamed up to offer the annual NATA Airport Executive Partnership Award. It seeks to recognize and promote airport officials who stand out in enhancing the business environment of the entire airport and its role in the community. The award is selected from NATA member nominations.
Brent Shiner, airport manager at Hayward (CA) Executive Airport, was honored at NATA's annual convention here as the 1999 recipient. Says one nominating member, a tenant at Hayward, "Brent recognized the opportunity for growth at HWD, but also recognized the need to mend fences between neighborhood groups, city officials, and users of the airport.
"Since Brent assumed management of the airport, an airport marketing plan has been developed with significant input from numerous tenants. In addition, a completely new tenant lease document has been developed which provides incentives for tenants to make long-term investments ..."
Shiner is third generation aviation. He spent his days of youth around grandfather's flight school at Santa Monica Airport. His father was a World War II fighter pilot, shot down over Italy and later escaping prison camp to fight again.
He started on the road to airport management with a degree in air transportation management from Arizona State University, with career stops at San Luis Obispo County, Lake Tahoe, and Santa Maria before coming to Hayward in 1996.
Following are edited excerpts from an interview with Shiner, conducted after the award ceremony.
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AIRPORT BUSINESS: Tell us about the environment at your airport.
Brent Shiner: Hayward has quite a history of controversy between the tenants and the airport, with city hall and the airport, with the community and the airport. One of the things that seemed to hurt Hayward in the pilot's mind was their performance-based noise ordinance, where they established minimum levels of noise that could be generated from the airport. They installed noise monitors out in the community and actually adopted a city ordinance that said, ’If you violate the parameters of our noise limits, then we're going to cite you. And, on your third citation, we can fine you up to $500.'
It created animosity.
AB: You recently changed the name of the airport.
Shiner: Our consultants recommended changing the name of the airport from the Hayward Air Terminal to the Hayward Executive Airport. We didn't even have a terminal; the control building houses our office.
We also wanted to get our name out to all of those companies that felt that Hayward wasn't friendly because of the noise ordinance. We wanted to change that image, to get the executive business traveler to come back.
We also needed to take a look at other issues — where our weaknesses were, where our strengths were. We hired a consulting firm to do a strategic business plan from a business standpoint, not from a master plan development standpoint.
We envisioned it as a two-step process. One was going to be the business plan to tell us what we needed to do, and then a marketing plan that said this is how to get the word out there.
The consulting firm had discovered that the tenants on the airport were pretty upset with the management, not only at the airport but downtown. So, when a prospective operator would come to Hayward and say that they were interested in business development, they would go and talk to the tenants of course, and the tenants would say, ’Don't come here.'
They felt there was a lot of inconsistency in the rent structure (varying rates, different reappraisal periods, etc.). So, we had to stop and go back and work with the tenants to see what their issues were. We're still in the process of doing that, trying to equalize everything out.
AB: What specifically have you done regarding rates?
Shiner: One of the things that we elected to do was to lower our tiedown fee. Our tiedown fee had a structure where every year the tiedown fees went up by the increase in the Consumer Price Index; same thing with our hangar rent.
Well, several years ago, we had probably 75 or 80 aircraft tied down on the field and when I got there we had 13. As the tiedown fees went up every year the airplanes went somewhere else. So, we took a survey of what the tiedown fees were from our FBOs and found out that we were outpricing ourselves, and every year just making it worse.
So, we established a tiedown fee of $55/month and just set it at that and are not going to increase it automatically every year. We established it at $55 because that's what the other FBOs were charging, and we didn't want to undercut them.
Then we said we were going to hold our T-hangar rents for two years and, after two years, we will look at a percentage of the CPI increase, rather than taking full CPI. As everybody knows, the elements that make up the Consumer Price Index — none of them involves aviation. What we've established right now is a 75 percent (of CPI) increase every two years, and every four years we stop and we take a look at the market rates. We want to take a look at similarly situated airports of the same size.
We've taken this approach to the city council where the city adopts a master fee schedule. It starts off with water bills and hookups, everything in the city, and right in there is the airport — here are the hangar rents, and this is the cost per square foot and fuel flowage fees for an FBO. It's all adopted by resolution, if somebody wants to know what we're charging. AB: What other things came out of the strategic plan? Shiner: Doing a master plan was another recommendation, and that's what we're involved with right now.
AB: How is Hayward doing financially?
Shiner: We're real fortunate in that we have a tremendous amount of revenue coming into the airport from non-aviation uses. We've got two hotels, a golf course, two restaurants, a theater complex. The planning and use of the airport has been well-defined and they've done a good job of that. As an Enterprise Fund we have to be self-sufficient and we are (operating budget - $1.6 million; annual revenues - $1.8 million).
AB: What about the noise problem with neighbors?
Shiner: With the noise ordinance it's been a tough road to walk the line between the pilots and the homeowners. I went out in the community and started working with several of the community groups. The ones closest to the airport, of course, get the highest priority because that's where most of the complaints come from. We track our complaints and how well we're doing in resolving them. We had over 400 complaints in 1998, and 300 of them were from two people.