Originally created 06/30/00

Commission, task force want plan for area airport



The Augusta Aviation Commission and Air Service Task Force members called Thursday for an immediate action plan for Augusta Regional Airport at Bush Field.

The two groups directed the airport's management consultant and marketing director - with input from the membership - to come up with "a plan, a budget and a hook" in two weeks to help them raise money to promote the airport.

Michael G. Maroney of Black & Veatch Corp., an airport management consulting group, outlined the essentials of a strategic marketing plan and proposed a fall promotional advertising campaign to focus attention on the airport.

But that will take money - from $50,000 to $2 million.

"The most critical step is the fund raising," Marketing Director David Dorminey said.

Task force Chairman Julian Miller said if the group was going to start raising money, it needed a "rallying point," an "action plan."

Without a plan for improvement to present to potential contributors, there won't be any contributions, he said.

"I guess I don't understand why we have to wait so long to do something to enhance the airport," he said. "If we can show people we are doing something, it's a lot easier to go in there and ask for money."

Aviation commission member Ed McIntyre cautioned against moving forward without a well-thought-out plan and goals, which could do more harm than good. He said it would be better to "wait a little bit."

"I agree with everything you said except the `Let's wait a little bit,'ƒ" Mr. Miller said.

"We're talking about raising between $50,000 to $2 million if I heard right," Mr. Miller said. "We've got to go to business people with something new."

Task force member Charles DeVaney also pushed for immediate action on some of Mr. Moroney's proposals for improvement, such as market surveys to see what people want at the airport. Otherwise, at year's end nothing concrete will have been done, he said.

Mr. McIntyre prompted airport officials to give the task force direction so it can go to work.

"If not now, when?" he asked.

Task force member JoAnn Hoffman called for the group to make "individual commitments" that their efforts are exciting and worthwhile.

After the meeting, aviation commission Chairman Ed Skinner said the groups were "making progress.

"If we can come back with some plan two weeks from now, a marketing plan, I think it will give us a much better direction of where're we're going," he said.

The next joint meeting is scheduled for 1 p.m. July 13.

During Thursday's joint meeting, aviation commission members left briefly for a called meeting to raise the fees the airport charges airlines for landing and terminal rental rates.

Fees will increase to $1.50 per thousand pounds of landed weight from 99 cents per thousand pounds. Leased space terminal rental rates will increase to $30 per square foot from $28 per square foot. The new rates go into effect July 1.

The current landing fee for a Delta MD 88 at 130,000 pounds is $123.50. The fees for an ASA ATR 72 at 47,000 pounds is $44.65, according to airport officials.

Increases are expected to help finance the planned airport terminal makeover.

Reach Sylvia Cooper at (706) 823-3228.