Salina, Kan., Airport Authority Seeks to Create Foreign Trade Zone

Aug. 18--The Salina Airport Authority wants to create a foreign trade zone that would benefit Salina companies engaged in international trade.

Tim Rogers, executive director of the authority, told his board Wednesday he hopes the application for the trade zone designation can be forwarded to the U.S. Department of Commerce by the end of the year.

Businesses in the designated foreign trade zone may import items without paying the custom duties that otherwise apply to goods brought into the United States from abroad. Typically, those businesses then use those imported items in the manufacture of other products.

If those manufactured products are in turn exported, the local business would pay no duty on the imported items. Only if the manufactured items are sold to domestic buyers would the duty come due; in that case, the value of the foreign trade zone would be that duty payments are deferred.

Rogers said the airport authority's plan is to seek an expansion of the foreign trade zone now operated by Sedgwick County. The authority's industrial property would be within the zone, but Rogers said the zone might be drawn to include the city airport.

"If there is a clear benefit for air freight and aircraft refueling, then we'll include the airfield in the application," he said.

Once the application is filed, Rogers said, a decision by the Department of Commerce likely would come within six months.

A maintenance center Also Wednesday, airport authority board members put together a wish list of aviation-related businesses they'd like to recruit.

"I would like to see us get into the bidding arena of a maintenance center," said Randy Hassler, board chairman. He cited airplane painting, upholstering and similar businesses as a good fit for Salina.

Rogers said it might be possible to develop a mall-style maintenance center that would bring together small businesses in one large hangar.

The authority has approached possible prospects, but agreements have not been signed, Rogers said.

He noted that the addition of such businesses would benefit the aviation program at nearby Kansas State University at Salina, which now must send its planes elsewhere for maintenance.

Hassler also said the airport's fixed base operators, America Jet and Flower Aviation, should be encouraged to become more involved in jet maintenance.

That would draw more jet traffic to the airport, he said, and "jets are where the money's at as far as (fuel) sales."