Ref: Airport Solar Work Questioned.
You shouldn't be surprised at anything that is occurring at the Chattanooga Airport, They have wasted millions of dollars on failed projects. They began by building the Wilson FBO that is actually ran by the airport and based the need for this PORK project on complaints of poor customer service at TAC AIR as well as high fuel prices. To date they cannot provide any documentation of these specific complaints and the airports own FBO is as much as .70 cents a gallon higher than TAC AIR's fuel prices (see AIRNAV.com) All we can wonder is what insane wasteful project is next. If they are truly wanting to diversify competition of any kind at the airport then they should invite and welcome private companies to invest their own capital and risk rather than using local tax dollars which to date have been a loosing business just like they were told it would be prior to beginning all this mess. Instead they should be investing their time and energy in bringing quality air service to the area that benefits the community. With this kind of thing going on why would any major company want to invest in Chattanooga and then turn around the next day and find the local government has set up shop to compete against them???
Look back to the beginning of this fiasco. Every issue that the Airport Authority throws out is proven false by facts. There has been no growth that they spoke of and there will be none like they spoke of in the future and they knew this. Don't rely on the Airport Authority's claims and research national aviation publications for comments about TAC Air's customer service. Also use the internet to compare TAC's fuel prices to local and national averages. Knoxville Airport released a "Request for Bid" in an attempt to get other FBO companies to invest and build there. They received 0 bids from any other companies. Knoxville has at least 3 times the air traffic that Chattanooga does. This means that it wasn't profitable for any company to build there including "Wilson". The airport authority’s responsibilities are to the general traveling public. The business of servicing private jets and planes is the responsibility of the private sector. No matter how much they stand up and continue to claim that no local tax dollars were used to build this disaster, the facts will not change. The Airport Authority (CMAA) has the highest flowage fees of any airport in the state. Included in this fee is a state tax assessed for each gallon of fuel sold. These funds were used to construct this disaster for the purpose of competing against a private business. The parking fees and landing fees are being used to subsidize the huge monthly losses incurred by the FBO. All of these "Taxes" are charged and collected locally which means they are local taxes. Not to mention that the Airport Authority forced the other FBO to collect a $10.00 landing fee against their customers while this was being planned and constructed. The fee mysteriously went away as soon as Wilson opened. If the CMAA was so concerned with costs at the airport, then first back yard they should work to clean up is their own. They increase their prices to bring in more revenue which is the same thing they criticize TAC Air for. In the business world this is called profit and sustainability both of which the airports FBO will never achieve.
Parking fees rise at Chattanooga Airport
by Mike Pare
@Bushpilot07 here are your facts.
"Expenses over the next 12 months are slated to go up about 9 percent to $8.3 million versus the prior year, according to the airport. Helping drive expenses are the airport's solar farm, general aviation development and terminal work such as new carpets and renovating restrooms, officials said".
This statement was taken from the article referenced above.The Solar farm and terminal renovations are being completed with a small amount of local dollars supplemented with GRANTS, or tax payer dollars. The general aviation development is a industry term for the Wilson FBO. Guess what? It's the reason they are raising parking fees as well as others. That's a fact Jack!
Everything the CMAA does is available via Freedom of Information Request. The CMAA financial statements have been crunched for over 3 years and the facts show it is hemorrhaging money.
The "TAX" on aviation fuel collected by the CMAA from both the private sector and the commercial airlines is what funded the construction of the Wilson Air Pork Project. Any fees accessed by a government agency are a "TAX". The Airport Authority and their PR Company can twist the money trail any way they want but the facts don't lie. Everyone who pays to park or buys fuel at the Chattanooga Airport is paying for this project. Chattanooga Airport also has the highest flowage fee of any other airport in the State of Tennessee. For comparison look to the Knoxville Airport where they just published a Request for Bid in regards to a second FBO and guess how many private companies responded. The answer is none. If the Knoxville airports tremendous air traffic can't attract interest in a second FBO then how do the brain trusts at the CMAA expect the math to work out here? If they want to continue to scream that it was because of growth and TAC Air’s high fuel prices and poor service then they should show a little proof as to where the complaints came from and how many of the new companies in town have flown to their failing operation. I think something the tax payers also don’t realize is that Wilson Air is just the name on the building and that the CMAA is actually bidding and seeking business. I would bet if someone checked that the employees at Wilson actually get a paycheck from the airport authority and not Wilson Air. The CMAA was told prior to jumping into this that it would not work but chose to move forward anyway. This entire scheme was a revenue seeking plan that will never work. Just my two cents worth………
I find the comments and motivations by the Chattanooga Airport Authority regarding the west side expansion troubling. They continue to state that they began the expansion and development of the new Airport Authority owned Fixed Based Operations, out of a demand from customer complaints related to high fuel prices and customer service issues. What they have done is institute a practice of government competing with private business and using these alleged complaints to justify their actions.
The Airport actually owns everything to do with this new venture, even the mounting losses and future capital expense associated with maintaining the facility. Wilson Air has nothing invested and not the first risk. In fact they began managing this facility in exchange for $100,000.00 per year. The losses over the last year and the future losses are absorbed by the Airport Authority. It’s hard to ignore the fact following the mounting losses that they immediately raised parking fees and landing fees charged to the airlines in attempt to recapture revenue and cover their losses which to date are in excess of $750,000.00
I have watched this debate over the last year and numerous questions remain unanswered surrounding this development.
If there were complaints from customers (Private Business’s) who frequent and use the facilities, why have they not been publicized and by what means if any are they documented?
The Airport Authority contends that this facility has reduced fuel prices by $1.00 per gallon at the airport. When did the airport become the only fuel facility in the world to regulate fuel prices when anywhere else it’s at the mercy of speculators and the market?
The Airport Authority claims in every press release that this development was also because of growth at the airport. If that claim is true then why is every customer that they presently have at the Wilson Air facility a former customer of its competitor TAC Air?
Why will the airport authority not clearly explain to the general public that this development has absolutely nothing to do with any service that they will ever use when flying commercially, rather it only impacts PRIVATE COMPANIES or individuals that own their own plan or jet?
Why will the Airport Authority not invest their energy and resources in improving the sorry air service that exists at their facility?
What are the positions and public comments from each of our elected officials on this issue of wasted tax dollars and the continued loss of money?
Finally, I wonder if the Airport Authority would be as adamant to support a government funded or better yet any parking facility across from the airport that competes for their parking revenues especially since it would immediately lower the cost of parking for actual users of the airport and in the spirit of competition.