Commissioners presented with Mid-Carolina Regional Airport assessment, tenants survey

Published 12:06 am Thursday, May 4, 2023

SALISBURY — The Rowan County Board of Commissioners were presented with an airport assessment conducted by aviation analysts who reviewed and made recommendations for the airport’s rules, regulations, minimum standards, rent fees and advisory board’s bylaws during a Monday afternoon meeting.

To help with the airport’s assessment, a survey was filled out by tenants. The survey is used to “obtain input on operation and management while identifying strengths and weaknesses,” according to the presentation.

The tenants who filled out the survey said the airport’s main strengths were management and staff, as well as the airport’s infrastructure and fuel pricing. Weaknesses were the availability of hangars, skydiving operations, county policies and effectiveness of the airport advisory committee. 

“Lack of available hangars is an issue across the state. The current Hangar Expansion Project will effectively utilize the remaining airport land currently accessible to aircraft. There are plans for future development including hangars but the first step is a parallel taxiway to make expansion possible,” said Valerie Steele, director of the airport, in an email.

The commissioners also voted in April to approve financing for the construction of five new box hangars at the airport, which will hopefully help with availability concerns.

Steele also noted that the skydiving operations meet all Federal Aviation Administration safety and inspection requirements and doesn’t consider it a weakness.

The analysts giving the presentation to the commissioners were David Benner and Katie Gainer, who work for Aviation Management Consulting Group. They made nine short-term recommendations and 10 long-term recommendations to improve the airport’s operations and management. The current initiatives they suggest focusing on are revenue enhancements and improvements to the rules, regulations, minimum standards and the advisory body bylaws. 

Based on an airport fee study that was conducted, the analysts recommended these aeronautical-related fees for the airport:

  • Fuel flowage fee: 20 cents per gallon
  • Aircraft handling fee: $35-$200
  • Parking fees: $15-$150
  • Aeronautical permit fees: $750

The rent study showed that current rates are below where they should be in order for the airport to be as self-sustaining as possible, Steele said. The consultants advised the commissioners to consider developing a plan to implement rate increases.

Commissioners were asked to approve the assessment, but decided to table the matter until the next meeting so they could have more time to review all the documents.