Yeager officials to consider an increase in landing fees

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Yeager Airport officials are looking to balance their operating expenses in the next fiscal year by making up for lost revenue by asking airlines to increase their landing fees.

“It’s (the landing fees) are as high as it’s ever been, although the budget is $100,00 less than it was last year,” said airport director Rick Atkinson, following a discussion between the board’s finance committee last week about next year’s expenses.

Atkinson said the lost revenue was caused by a 6 percent reduction in the number of seats available to passengers flying to and from Charleston this past year.

Members of the committee are recommending to the airport’s board that landing fees should rise from the current $3.07 per thousand pounds of landed weight to $4.74. This will raise the average cost per passenger from $10.75 to $12.38.

“Almost all airport income revenue is derived directly from passengers, so with less passengers means less revenue, less parking, less rent-a-cars, less concessions,” said Atkinson.

In the current fiscal year, most of the lost passenger seats accounted for the discontinued Delta Airlines flights from Charleston to Detroit and the phase-out of American Airlines’ Charleston to Dallas flights.

The landing fee hike recommendation was approved by finance committee members last week and will be presented to Yeager’s board of directors for approval next month.

Atkinson said the airlines will then review and comment on it until mid July, as long as they adopt rates prior to the July billing.

The airport has a six year contract with airlines that has the pre-set rate formula embedded in the contract.

The airport’s budget is not like a regular governmental agency budget, according to Atkinson, but more like a utility that sets it rates based on an approved formula.