Neil Armstrong Airport reports decline in revenue

By Sandy Rose Schwieterman - For the Sidney Daily News

NEW KNOXVILLE – Income in 2020 was down at the Neil Armstrong Airport after a year of COVID-19, Treasurer Mark Howe said at the Jan. 12 meeting of the Auglaize County Airport Authority.

While the final income allowed for $107,000 in net profit, if not for the $39,000 in Federal Aviation Administration Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act funding, the annual income would be much less.

The leading cause of the funding shortfalls, Airport Manager Ted Bergstrom said, were the sharp decrease in fuel sales and airplane traffic since COVID shut down the country in late March. For example, corporate jet traffic was down to almost nothing since April.

“Where we would have 10 to 20 jets every month, in 2020 we saw that number for the entire nine months since lockdown,” he said.

In other action, the ACAA accepted an estimate of $9,000 from Baumer Construction, of Minster, to do repairs to the exterior of Hanger F. Wellman Brothers, of Coldwater, submitted an estimate of $10,839.

Still to be selected was an estimate to have exterior work to be done on Hangar E. Bergstrom said that Baumer Construction had submitted an estimate of $26,250, but Wellman had not yet submitted a bid.

In regards to a new generator being installed in the new airport terminal project, Bergstrom said airport personnel had worked with Baumer and New Knoxville Supply to install wiring and data lines and now were waiting for Vectron to have their permits approved to install new gas lines.

Bergstrom also said six requests for qualifications responses were received from various consulting firms. Those firms are BF&S, CHA Consulting, Delta Airport Consultants, RDM International, Richland Engineering and Stantec Consulting.

The current consulting firm is Delta, but every six years the ACAA is permitted to review what is available. It was agreed the RFQ committee would meet to look over the proposals. The consulting firm would serve as a general contractor for airport projects.

The airport manager also said the last of the airport hangars had been connected to sanitary and water lines. Bergstrom and the ACAA members discussed perhaps finding options to recover utility costs for water and sewage usage by either a flat fee or usage-based fee.

It was agreed that unless hanger tenants were willing to pay a flat fee now, the alternative of adding a usage fee might have to wait until a hangar lease is renewed. Bergstrom will seek feedback from the airport tenants.

Bergstrom also said he and Howe were reviewing expenses that would qualify for additional FAA CARES Act funds. Approximately $29,000 remains in the FAA account.

Tabled was any action on a project proposed by Steven Barber, a film producer from California, to erect a Neil Armstrong statue at the new terminal. Bergstrom said Barber had sought assistance to approach local businesses for donations. Barber said the cost of the project would be $250,000.

ACAA members expressed skepticism about the cost of the project and what qualifications Barber had to promote the project. Bergstrom will investigate.

By Sandy Rose Schwieterman

For the Sidney Daily News

The writer is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News.

The writer is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News.