Hike in Aircraft Parking Fees Gets Green Light at Indiana Airport

Dec. 15--Parking your car is still free at Gary/Chicago International Airport. But parking that Gulfstream corporate jet overnight will cost $35 starting Jan. 1.

The airport will increase aircraft parking fees ranging from $15 overnight and $75 per week for small single-engine planes to $35 overnight and $175 for large corporate aircraft.

It will not apply to airlines such as Hooters.

The Gary/Chicago International Airport Authority board approved the new fees at its regular meeting Wednesday. The airport in its advertising touts its free parking for cars.

The aircraft parking fees will give the airport one more stream of revenue as it gets ready for a major expansion project. The airport also earns revenue from landing fees and fuel sales.

Airport officials said the aircraft landing fee is simply a means of recouping money for wear and tear on airport facilities.

"It pays for the impact of having a huge aircraft sit on the pavement for a week," said Chris Curry, airport deputy director. "And presently we get no revenue from that."

In other action, the board approved a contract with Aviation Professionals Inc. that will allow the flight school to become a full-service fixed-base operator. That means API will be able to sell fuel, do aircraft maintenance and provide other services for private planes.

The API contract contains a clause requiring API to buy fuel through the airport authority. The authority collects 5 cents on every gallon pumped.

Airport deputy director Chris Curry said API's services will be geared mainly toward general aviation users of the airport.

API becomes the second fixed-base operator at the airport.

The Gary Jet Center already provides an array of services including fueling, charters, and maintenance.

The API contract passed by a 6-1 vote, with board member Cornell Collins voting against. Collins said he wanted to see the actual contract provisions for API, rather than just the summary board members were given.

Collins also announced he will leave the board after serving for six years. Collins has often advocated for local Gary taxpayers while serving on the board. He did so again on Wednesday.

"Citizens have put their tax dollars into this airport," he said on Wednesday. "They should get first dibs on any good that may come of this. ... What profits all our plans if the local citizens don't benefit."