Planes aren't flying
Jul 24, 2009
By ADAM NORTHAM
BROOKHAVEN, Miss. -- With the McComb-Pike County Airport closed until
mid- to late-August while its 5,000-foot runway is repaved, the Brookhaven Municipal Airport could see increased air traffic - if anyone were flying.
Corporate jets aren't flying much in these uncertain financial times, and McComb's private plane owners are just going to stand on the brakes and stay out of the sky while the 30-day paving project is carried out, said Perry McKinney, part owner of the airport's fixed base operator, Air Services of Mississippi.
"The last couple of months, traffic for us and everybody else has been really low," he said. "Business jet traffic is really falling off.
People are just not sure if they want to invest their money."
Even if the corporate jets were taking to the skies, not many would be coming to Brookhaven.
Paul Barnett, chairman of BMA's advisory committee, said a combination of limited hangar space and an inadequate Instrument Landing System puts the city's airport at risk to lose traffic to other airports, like Hammond or Baton Rouge.
Plane owners are "less than eager" to leave their aircraft outside in the weather, he said, and the airports with a more advanced ILS will attract aircraft planning to fly while the weather is less than ideal.
"That makes them more desirable for a standpoint of jet traffic,"
Barnett said. "But this time of year, that's not really much of an issue."
Barnett said the airport would likely receive a small boost from pilots stopping over for fuel while on route to other destinations, but that boost won't be possible until the facility refills its tanks with aviation gasoline. The airport still has plenty of Jet A fuel used by jets, turbo props and helicopters, but has been out of aviation gas since last week, he said.
The decision was made to go without fuel because the facility's two new, 12,000-gallon fuel tanks are installed and should be hooked up within a week. It would cost even more to pump the fuel out of the old tanks and into the new ones, Barnett said.
"The contract for installing the new tanks calls for the removal of the old tanks, and to get the fuel transferred to the new tanks would cost a couple thousand more dollars," he said.
The project to install the new aboveground tanks began in May, and costs around $300,000. The underground fuel farm they are replacing was 40 years old, and has had leakage problems in the past.
Once the new tanks are online, however, the airport will be able to reap some small benefits from air travelers.
Airport manager Al Morrow said the Brookhaven strip has the capacity to handle anyone who wants to stop. Visiting pilots are allowed the key code to enter the office and even use of the airport vehicle during their stopover.
Morrow said medical air services may opt to use Brookhaven's airport to transfer patients to McComb's Southwest Mississippi Regional Medical Center.
"We may get some of the air ambulances from places like Little Rock
(Ark.) and Monroe (La.) - they may have to come into Brookhaven for delivery of patients and use the ambulance to take them down to Pike County," he said.
No Plane No Gain: Sampling of 2010 Coverage
Since the launch of the No Plane No Gain advocacy campaign, a concerted effort has been made to deliver the message about the importance of business aviation through national and local news outlets. This sampling of national and local television coverage in 2010, highlights the campaign's effectiveness in communicating the industry's importance.
NBAA's Bolen on Fox Business Network
Click here to see Ed Bolen, President and CEO of NBAA, in an interview on Fox Business Network
NBAA's Bolen on DC's Newschannel 8
In an interview with Newschannel 8, Bolen explains that "... business aviation is prudent, cost-effective, and oftentimes, the only way to get where you're going."