City increases subsidy for airport manager

Published 12:35 am Thursday, January 17, 2008

By Staff
Money will help support Warren Field operations, not enterprise activities
Contributing Editor
Tradewind Aviation, manager of Washington’s Warren Field Airport, has received a $28,820 increase in its subsidy from the city.
The City Council approved the increase during its meeting Monday.
On Jan. 16, 2007, the city entered into a contract with Tradewind Aviation, which is owned by Thomas Dolder. The contract included a provision requiring the city to provide a $50,000 subsidy to Tradewind Aviation to serve as the fixed-base operator for the airport for one year. The subsidy is for managing the airport, not Tradewind Aviation’s enterprise activities such as parachute training and flight instruction.
The subsidy increase includes nearly $6,000 to cover the loss Tradewind Aviation incurred last year when it managed the airport. From Wednesday until June 30 of this year, the cost of the subsidy totals $22,916.63, according to a city document.
Thomas Dolder, owner of Tradewind Aviation, attended the council’s meeting and explained why he sought the increase. Dolder told the council that without a subsidy from the city, at least for several years, an effort to manage the airport would fail.
Dolder said Tradewind Aviation spent about $48,000 on salaries for its employees to operate the airport, which includes manning the terminal, fueling aircraft and taking care of other management duties.
Recent financial information regarding the airport fund shows it is losing less money than in previous years.
The city is working to make the airport as self-sufficient as possible. The airport, operated by the city as an enterprise fund, lost $1,317 during fiscal year 2006-2007, which ran from July 1, 2006, to June 30, 2007, according to an audit report. In fiscal year 2005-2006, the airport lost $262,338, according to an audit report. A project presented to the council Monday shows the airport fund losing a little more than $2,000 this fiscal year.
City Manager James C. Smith said making the Warren Field as self-sufficient as possible is a “matter of trying to continue to improve operation of the airport.”
A major source of the airport’s operational revenue comes from fuel sales. Dolder told the council that implementing a self-serve fueling system at the airport would help reduce the airport’s operational costs. City officials are contemplating implementing such a system.
Some council members and Mayor Judy Meier Jennette broached the subject of possibly approaching Beaufort County to see if it’s interested in re-establishing an affiliation with the airport. The city and county once shared ownership of the airport.
For additional coverage of the council’s meeting, see future editions of the Washington Daily News.