“Privatization” is a vague term when applied to Airport Management and may/may not provide relevant solutions

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ARTICLE: Brookhaven official looks to privatize money-losing Calabro Airport

“Airport Privatization” may denote, in American aviation terminology, everything from statutory sale/lease of the entire land and business enterprise to the offering of the food concession at the minimalist end of the spectrum. Brookhaven’s supervisor appears to be inviting a private entity to take-over the operation of the entire enterprise and assume the risk of the venture, thus insulating his town from Calabro Airport’s historic losses. This option will still be subject to FAA review but may not attract of host of offers from companies that are successful running GA airports.

The business of making a small airport break even may involve marketing that the local citizens do not like. One of the most effective means of adding to an airport’s revenues would be to attract more aircraft to be based at Calabro. More planes=more hangar/tie down fees=more operations=more fuel payments, but also means more takeoffs & landings= more noise. Another well tested method of improving the economics would be to market to corporate aircraft, which would like its geographic location on Long Island, which would find the airport’s lack of delays a plus and which might find its two 4,00’ runways to be adequate. This tactic may result in more jets at HWV, but the bad news is that this class of equipment will expand the noise contours in the neighborhoods surrounding this airport. If this is a very successful strategy, then, there may be pressure to lengthen the runways.

The point is that in offering to “privatize” this airport, the elected officials would be well advised to consider what parameters will move this “loss” off the town’s books, and what limits will insure that the sounds of success do not create a hue and cry from its neighbors. Defining those terms takes more than 30 days and getting a good private company to operate will require time, effort and experts.

At the far end of the spectrum, statutory privatization, a well designed offer to the private sector might result in a monetization of this asset, but the contractual restrictions, witness the above description of the balancing needed for a simple management contract, are more complex and will involve significant drafting as well as an arduous FAA approval process.

Good luck, Brookhaven, but be careful. You definitely need some help.

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