Parking fees in the wings at airport

June 04, 1997


Staff Writer

Washington County Regional Airport officials are considering instituting paid parking to generate more money.

The airport could generate tens of thousands of dollars a year in net proceeds by charging passengers $4 a day to park automobiles, said Chris Howley, a vice president of Republic Parking System in Tennessee.

About 36,000 passengers flew out of the airport last year.

Howley told Washington County Commissioners Tuesday his company would like to implement and operate paid parking toll booths.

Howley submitted a schedule of suggested parking rates. The first 15 minutes would be free. The first hour would cost 75 cents and each additional hour 50 cents with a $4 daily maximum and a $20 weekly maximum.

Howley suggested that the lot be manned by a cashier 19 hours a day, and said the project would involve about $64,000 in capital costs.


Howley said a sample contract could have the first $50,000 in revenue going to his company, with the airport getting a progressively larger piece of the revenue pie as revenue increased, maxing out at 85 percent of revenue above $150,000.

Commissioner Ronald L. Bowers said paying cashiers to man ticket booths was an unnecessary expense and worried paid parking could drive people away from the airport. Bowers suggested that if the airport wanted to charge for parking, it should add a surcharge of $2.45 for each outgoing passenger - the net profit the airport in Salisbury, Md., receives from its parking operation. That way, the capital and operating costs of a gated parking operation could be avoided, Bowers said.

Airport Manager Carolyn Motz said such airport usage fees charged to tickets are strictly regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration and the revenue generated could only be used for airport capital expenses.

Commissioner John S. Shank said he liked Bowers' idea. Shank said after the meeting that if the commissioners did decide to go with paid parking, the airport should run the operation instead of some private company.

Howley didn't like Bowers' idea. He said passengers choose where to fly based on how expensive air fares are, not parking fees. He said putting the cost in the fares would deter people from using the airport but predicted that ticketed parking wouldn't affect usage of the airport.

The County Commissioners directed the Airport Commission to look at different ways of generating more revenue at the airport.

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