08 March 2013

The cost of running an airport...

This piece from the Westport News is a timely reminder about the costs of running an airport... Obviously the costs of running the airport have to be either absorbed by the airport company/operator and/or passed on to the users. In Westport's case the main user is Eagle Air who operate 12 Beech flights to Westport each week. If the cost is put back on to the airline the fares go up, the locals complains the fares are too high (as compared to fares out of Nelson for example or main trunk fares) and patronage drops... It is situations like this that makes one think what is the future of air services to the small provincial centres? 

Lightning strikes that blew up runway lights and knocked out computer systems at Westport Airport last year cost over $33,000 in repairs. They are the reason the airport has reported an operating defi cit of $57,406 for the six months to December 31- that’s $17,314 more than the budgeted deficit of $34,092, said chief executive Bede Brown. The airport cost $27,016 more to operate than the same period in 2011. Revenue totalled $91,415, which was $5919 more than budget. Spending totalled $148,821, which was $29,233 more than budget. The main difference was maintenance costs, which came to $53,995, including lightning strike repairs. The maintenance budget was $31,752. Mr Brown said the airport actually had two lightning strikes – a big one in October, which blasted a 400-metre section of runway lighting cable, blowing 34 of the runway lights out of the ground, and a smaller one later which blew up a control panel. “You can’t do anything about nature,” he said. The lightning strikes were the first to hit the airport in about seven years. The airport now has accumulated losses of $906,026, shared between the joint owners, the Buller District Council and the Ministry of Transport.

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