Before Charleston County Aviation Authority Director Sam Hoerter announced plans last week to retire at the end of the year, he and his team negotiated a deal with airport rental-car companies in a bid to lower airline costs and incite more service.
The five companies that rent cars beside the airport baggage claim agreed to hand over the greater of 10 percent of their revenue or a collective $4.7 million in the upcoming fiscal year. They had been paying 9.25 percent of revenue or $2.9 million previously.
The new deal will allow the county to give airlines an 18 percent discount on renting terminal space. Carriers will now pay about $4.05 per passenger boarded in Charleston, about 30 percent less than the average at U.S. airports, according to aviation authority Finance Director Susan Stevens.
That sort of deft piloting is playing well on Wall Street. Moody's Corp., a credit-rating firm, recently upgraded its outlook on the aviation authority's debt from "stable" to "positive," an assessment that could mean a slightly lower interest rate the next time the airport needs to borrow money.
Analysts still don't like the fact that about half of Charleston air traffic is tourists, and the Air Force can terminate commercial flights at any time per the county's agreement to use the military runways. But Moody's said the facility's relatively low costs will maintain air service, despite the shakiness of the industry and the recent failure of Independence Air.
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The Houston hay venture typifies a growing trend in airport management: looking beyond traditional aviation-related sources to bolster finances.
The authority plans to reduce rents and fees charged to airlines and also gave the green light for upgrades to airport fueling facilities.
Briefings ... Arinc Direct — announces it will add computerized ETOPS route planning to its portfolio of flight support services for business aircraft, available by midyear. ATA — Air...