None of them knew that it was a drain on the city treasury. The 2007
Ray Boudreaux, the city’s airport director, said in February that operations have had a steady drop, but no one can figure out why. “We’re just going to have to try and figure it out,” he said, inspiring little confidence that he could. “There’s [sic] too many variables to figure anything out precisely.” At the same time, Ray said thanks to two state grants and a $700,000 loan from the city, they were breaking ground on a $1.3 million hanger project to serve the business needs of Million Air and Sky Venture. In the latest available Management Report, he admits that “the second quarter continues the dramatic reduction in operations” and that “air taxi (charter) numbers are way down, off nearly 50% in the first six months of the year.” Yet, we’re likely to see a proposed budget for 2008 that continues to fund this mysterious loser.
Why does the city continue to funnel our money into this financial sinkhole? Because a few very influential people benefit from the luxury of having an airport paid for by the city. Back in 1999, after the Chamber sold us out to the Northwest Arkansas Council, they gave Mayor Hanna a marketing plan calling for the city to promote the airport as a "stopover" destination for corporate jets. The city appears to have taken their orders and is continuing to do what they want to comfort the jet set.
UA coaches and administrators making six figures use the airport so they don’t have to drive to
The airport's new mission statement says it is supposed to “foster economic growth and commerce.” To accomplish that, they have a master plan to spend $62 million in a program that will include a fancy golf course, an extended runway to accommodate bigger jets, an airport hotel, and million-dollar homes with attached hangers and runway access. Again, I see nothing in that foolishness that does anything for the citizens of
The city claims that the depreciated value of the airport land and buildings is $14.66 million, but it would likely bring much more on the market. If the city sold it and put that in passbook savings, we’d be way ahead of what’s happening now. If they transferred it to the Housing Authority to partner with Habitat for Humanity, we could solve our problems with affordable housing. But that would mean that corporate executives and university bureaucrats wouldn’t have us subsidizing their flying follies, and the convenience of travel by private jet would require them to drive to