Airport rent reduced temporarily

Jason Puckett Photo available for purchase

Jason Puckett

Published: Wednesday, September 3, 2014 at 03:08 PM.

At their Tuesday morning meeting, county commissioners agreed to slash in half for the next six months the monthly lease payment paid to the county by CrystalAir, the fixed base operator at Apalachicola Regional Airport.

Commissioner Pinki Jackel moved to reduce CrystalAir’s rent from $5,000 monthly to $2,500 for six months, and require the county be paid three cents for every gallon of gas sold. The motion passed 4-1, with Commissioner Noah Lockley opposed.

Jason Puckett, spokesman for the FBO, told commissioners fuel sales the airport have been less than expected since CrystalAir took over in Oct. 2012. He said records reviewed at the time the lease was signed were misleading.

“Not a lot of folks make a fuel stop here on their way to somewhere else,” he said. “We have tried to market (the airport) with tourism. All we’re asking is that you make it equitable and fair.”

Puckett said the airport had gotten a reputation for poor service in the past that his firm is fighting to overcome. He said CrystalAir is making progress toward improving customer relations.

Commissioner Smokey Parrish said he was surprised to learn that annual fuels sales of $60,000 only covered the cost of the annual lease. He said the sluggish economy played a role in the lack of business at the airport. He said much of the business community was concerned the airport remain open.

Puckett said there are problems renting the existing hangers to generate additional income, referring to a large county-owned hanger that has remained largely empty since it was constructed a few years ago.

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