Airport board to negotiate new rates, charges

Abilene Regional Airport plans to negotiate new rates with tenants.

The airport staff received the go-ahead to start negotiations from the Airport Development Board after the board heard a study Wednesday saying rates need to increase if the airport is going to keep up with others its size.

A study by Steve Horton of Leibowitz & Horton suggested that those who lease property at the airport, as well as the airlines, would have to pay more if the airport is to stay competitive and reduce its deficit. The airport is now subsidized by other funds, including money from the city of Abilene.

The study showed that the Abilene airport's operating expenses were lower than that of the industry average, but revenues are, too. Abilene receives $11.93 per departing passenger compared to the industry average of $18.54.

After the board met in executive session for about 40 minutes, it reconvened and authorized the airport staff to begin negotiations with tenants for new leases.

The board also received an update on parking lot improvements.

Don Green, aviation director, said bids would be opened Oct. 24 on a project to enlarge and improve the parking lot.

"We had 11 bids," he said. "I feel good about it, and our parking lot will triple in size."