As passengers return to the skies, Yeager Airport is anticipating substantial growth during the 2022 fiscal year.
The airport’s operating budget for the upcoming fiscal year, which was approved unanimously by its governing board on Wednesday, outlines a “significant increase in revenues” as well as “an expansion of staffing to accommodate additional growth.”
Anticipated revenue is just shy of $11.25 million, with expenses around $13.72 million. Federal funding from the Federal Aviation Administration will be used to offset any generated net losses.
Nick Keller, the airport’s director and CEO, told board members Wednesday that the airport wanted to utilize a portion of the federal funds, which were obtained through the CARES Act and the American Rescue Plan Act, strategically.
“I think we’re making a good, conservative use of the federal relief funds. We’re making sure that we spend it before it expires,” Keller said. “We need to grow to match our increase in operations.”
According to the budget, enplanements are projected to return to pre-pandemic levels. Estimates show a projected total of 190,370 enplanements during the upcoming fiscal year, which would be a 300% increase over 2021.
The airport announced earlier this month that all routes paused due to COVID-19 would return, the final being American Airlines flights to Philadelphia resuming in early June.
The Capital Jet Center at the airport is expected to be the main generator of revenue, totaling $4.4 million. Salary and wages will likely be the largest expense, totaling almost $5 million.
The board touched on a variety of other topics during Wednesday’s meeting, including the bankruptcy of rental car company Hertz, which has a location at the airport.
According to Keller, Hertz’s ceasing of operations came as a bit of a surprise as the company continued paying in full, even after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy a year ago.
“We don’t anticipate a big hit on the airport’s budget,” Keller told board members. “The only hit right now would be rent payment, which is pretty minimal, because all of the business that Hertz is not getting is going to the other companies. We would still get the 11% of the gross revenue. Financially, it’s not a huge burden on us, but it is something we are trying to remedy and get another company.”
With the return of Congressional earmarks, Keller also noted the airport submitted a request for approximately $9.9 million in funds through the office of Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.
Keller said he believes the airport has a “really good chance” of getting the money, which the airport would use to assist in the construction of the maintenance and public safety building, among other areas.