Airport offering nonstop incentive

Airlines starting direct coastal service from Tulsa would get paid.

In a move to attract more nonstop airline service, Tulsa Airport Improvement Trustees on Thursday approved a $50,000 marketing incentive payment to a carrier initiating service to an East or West coast international gateway airport.

Alexis Higgins, marketing director for the Tulsa Airport Authority, said the new incentive will allow Tulsa International to be more competitive in attracting air service. The incentive is offered to carriers who provide new service for at least one year.

"Oklahoma City (Will Rogers World Airport) has a $200,000 marketing support incentive" for new airline service, Higgins said. "San Antonio gives $100,000 for each new market served."

The $50,000 marketing incentive is the fourth tier of incentives offered by TAIT for new airline service.

TAIT also offers $10,000 to a carrier providing new service to a market not being served; $5,000 for additional flights to markets already served; and $2,500 for aircraft upgrades, from a 50-seat to a 70-seat regional jet, for instance.

"We'll review this on an annual basis," said Airports Director Jeff Mulder. "We feel we'll have our money back within a year, and that doesn't count all the other benefits we'll have."

In a related development, Southwest Airlines has notified airport officials that it will begin Saturday nonstop service from Tulsa to Orlando, Fla., on March 8. Southwest will offer the Saturday service to Orlando until May 9, Higgins said.

"Orlando is the only city in our top 10 destinations we don't have nonstop flights to," Higgins said. "It's primarily a leisure destination, but a lot of companies conduct corporate training there."

Trustees approved a $29,750 payment to the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority for consulting services to assist in setting up use of the PikePass system at airport parking facilities.

Consultants will develop an Inter Local Agreement between TAIT and the turnpike authority. The agreement then will be presented to airport trustees for their approval, officials said.

Implementing the PikePass system at Tulsa International would cost about $645,000, officials said, but the investment could be repaid within four years because of reduced personnel costs.

A professional services amendment with C&S Cos. Inc. to extend its aircraft noise insulation services contract to Dec. 31, 2008, was approved by the board.

Jeff Hough, deputy airports director of engineering and facilities, said C&S completed noise mitigation work in September on 193 homes included in a $6.6 million Federal Aviation Administration grant awarded TAIT in 2005.

The original contract awarded to C&S for program management, design and construction management services was not to exceed $2.1 million. As of Oct. 1, C&S completed its work at a cost of $1.93 million, $170,969 below the estimate.

Under the contract, C&S sound insulated 193 homes, provided sale assistance to one homeowner and negotiated a flyover easement with one property owner, Hough said.

Average total cost per sound-insulated home was $38,584, and the typical construction time was nine days, Hough said.

Under Tulsa-based Cinnabar Service Co., the previous noise program manager, the projected total cost per home would have been $47,183 at 20 working days per home, he said.

"In summary, after completion of work under the first grant being managed by C&S Engineers, the noise program is being completed with about 20 percent lower costs (which allowed 35 more homes to be addressed) and construction time in the homes has been cut in half," Hough wrote TAIT in his noise program summary.

Trustees approved the final payment of $167,198 to Tulsa-based Sherwood Construction Co. and accepted the completed $7.14 million aircraft pavement rehabilitation project at Tulsa International. The total is more than $1 million below the original contract because, in part, $984,536 less in materials were used than originally estimated, Hough said.

The $4.036 million Taxiway Echo extension project also was accepted, and the board approved the final $221,486 payment to Sherwood. The project was 1.6 percent above the original contract of $3.97 million.

Airline passenger traffic at Tulsa International in October totaled 303,031 travelers, up 7.8 percent from the same month last year.

For the first 10 months of 2007, airline passenger traffic totaled 2.79 million, up 2.4 percent.

D.R. Stewart 581-8451