Bracing for an austere fiscal year 2010, the Lexington Blue Grass Airport board has approved an $11.5 million operating and capital improvement budget for the year. The new budget is 11 percent lower than the previous fiscal year's budget.
Airport officials have made significantly lower projections for income from several of the airport's revenue sources, including commercial airlines, parking, and food, beverage and gift concessions.
The 2010 fiscal budget, as compared to the 2009 fiscal budget, reflects an 11 percent decrease in overall revenue from commercial airlines, the airport's largest source of regular income, with a 19 percent decline in commercial plane landing fee revenue alone. Airport parking lot income is projected to be 6 percent lower than the amount projected for fiscal 2009; revenue from food, beverage and gift concessions is projected to decline 13 percent. The fiscal year begins July 1.
"Needless to say, 2010 is going to be a tough year," airport board member Richard Hopgood said before the budget was approved during the board's regular monthly meeting on Wednesday.
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Airport interim executive director Eric Frankl said later that the new, lower budget is a conservative one that takes into account a major downturn in the airline industry.
"Hopefully we won't be impacted any greater than that," he said.
The recent merger of Delta and Northwest airlines means the merged airline will be using less counter space and fewer gates at the airport, hence a decrease in rental income for the airport, Blue Grass Airport spokesman Brian Ellestad said. Several flight reductions have also been scheduled for the near future, he added.
"We haven't lost any markets, but we've lost frequency," he said.
"Certainly, there are a lot of other airports that are having worse projections than we are," Frankl said.
As for airport expenses for fiscal 2010, regular salaries and wages are projected to be 5 percent lower than what they were projected to be for fiscal 2009. But overtime is projected to be 30 percent higher. Nearly $158,000 is budgeted for employee training and travel in fiscal 2010, compared to $225,500 for fiscal 2009.
The airport board on Wednesday also agreed to spend $1 million to repair, refurbish and upgrade the airport's aircraft rescue fire fighting training center, which public safety personnel at airports in the region use to learn how to handle plane crashes. The money is to come from a federal stimulus grant that the Federal Aviation Administration has offered Blue Grass Airport.
The board voted to pay Minni field Enterprize $189,471 of the grant money for refurbishing the 13-year-old training center building. Frankl said that the facility has undergone no real capital improvements since it was built.
Board member P.G. Peeples said it was fitting that the contract with Minnifield Enterprize, a minority-owned business, was approved Wednesday. Last week, the airport was recognized by the FAA with the 2009 Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Advocate and Partner Award. Peeples and Blue Grass Airport deputy director Mark Day went to Baltimore to accept the honor at the Annual Airport Business Diversity Conference sponsored by the FAA.