New website enhances airport’s use as development tool
Published 6:33 pm Friday, November 3, 2017
Washington-Warren Field’s website has taken flight.
The website — www.washington-warrenairport-nc.gov — provides information about the city-owned airport and helps market the facility, which has received several improvements in recent years. Those improvements include a new terminal, dedicated in May 2015, to replace the one destroyed by a “gustnado” in July 2012.
“When I look at all the funds that we generate through the city, the cemetery and airport are two that we need to concentrate on. When we actually went out under contract with Earl Malpass to run the airport … and he has some good comments about … increasing our visibility and let people know we do have an airport here,” City Manager Bobby Roberson said about developing the airport website. “We went with a webpage set-up. Hopefully, pilots will take a look at that as they’re thinking about flying from Washington, D.C., or Maine all the way down to Miami and et cetera. They’ll have to refuel, and we feel like we’re halfway between those two destinations. It’s a great opportunity for us to advertise the airport and let them know that we here. That’s the main purpose, to give us more exposure about the airport we have here.”
Last month, the City Council chose Malpass, who already had a presence at the airport, to serve as the airport’s new operations/management director. Malpass also will help market the airport, aid in website maintenance for the airport, visit other airports, try to drum up other business as well as manage and formulate standard operating procedures, according to Frankie Buck, the city’s director of public works.
Malpass and David Carraway, the city’s director of information technology, developed the airport’s website, Roberson said.
Carraway said the airport’s website went live about three weeks ago. “More change is coming,” he said about the website. Aaron Berry, airport manager, will be making some of those changes, Carraway said.
“It’s the best-kept secret in Washington,” Carraway said of the airport.
City officials view the airport as an economic-development tool, which is why airport improvements have been taking place regularly. Most of the money for those improvements comes from state and federal grants to be spent on aviation-related projects that include runway repaving, improved runway lighting and airport safety. Some people contend the city should not own and operate the airport, saying it’s a drain on city finances (and taxpayers) and the city gets little return on its annual investment in the airport.
The website touts the services and amenities — fueling, maintenance facilities and modern terminal — available at the airport. As for marketing the airport, it does a little more than just that. “As you fly in you will be greeted by an open view of our waterfront along with our clean maintained runways and taxiways,” reads part of the website that includes an aerial view of the city’s waterfront and Pamlico-Tar River.
The city’s efforts to market the airport could be paying off. Fuel sales at the airport exceeded expectations in the 2016-2017 fiscal year, resulting in Washington’s City Council amending the 2016-2017 budget so it reflects the $17,000 increase in fuel-sales revenues in that budget. The 2016-2017 budget, which ended June 30, estimated fuel-sales revenues at $168,000, the same amount included in the 2017-2018 budget, which began July 1.
During its meeting Monday, the City Council will consider authorizing the mayor to ask the North Carolina Department of Transportation’s Division of Aviation to assist in making safety improvements to the airport’s runways and taxiways. NCDOT-DOA offers a program that uses state employees to make such improvements at no cost to the city. “The DOA will inspect the areas that need maintenance upon the city’s request. The NCDOT will repair the area with NCDOT forces if the deteriorated area is a safety concern to the traveling public or flight operations,” reads a memorandum from Frankie Buck, the city’s director of public works, to the mayor and council members.