Wednesday, 16 May 2012 15:28

Fuel facility should attract more airplanes to Swift Current airport

Written by  Matthew Liebenberg
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A new cardlock facility for dispensing aviation fuels at the Swift Current airport is making it easier for local and visiting aircraft to refuel.

The City of Swift Current has concluded a lease agreement with Touch N Go Aviation, which has constructed the cardlock facility to provide turbine fuel for jet aircraft and aviation gasoline for piston airplanes. Councillors approved the lease agreement at their regular meeting on May 14.
Airport Superintendent Todd Schultz said the facility has been in operation since September 2011 and the lease agreement will be applied retroactively —the response to the new arrangement has been positive.
“I’ve had a lot of feedback from other groups in the industry and other nearby airports that this is definitely a benefit to the aviation infrastructure in the southwest,” he mentioned. “As newcomers come to Swift Current airport and realize that we have fuel, it’s always been a positive.”
In the past fuel was dispensed on a call-out basis. Pilots had to make prior arrangements to ensure someone was there when they landed or they had to wait for someone to dispense fuel after they arrived.
Schultz said it was usually not a problem during normal business hours, but it was inconvenient after hours. In the interim before the establishment of the cardlock facility there was no fuel available.
The new arrangement has already resulted in more helicopters landing at the airport.
“Helicopters require a lot more fuel than a typical airplane and range is limited, so we do see a lot of helicopter traffic now,” he said. “Many stops at the airport are strictly just for fuel or a rest break, so now with fuel here we do see more traffic.”
The City's lease agreement with Touch N Go Aviation provides for an annual rental rate of $1,000 and an additional fee of $500 per year for grounds maintenance. The City will also collect an annual concession rate on each litre of fuel sold. This rate will increase from $0.03 per litre in the first year to $0.04 per litre in the second year and to $0.05 per litre for the remaining three years of the agreement. Property taxes for improvements on the lease are paid to the R.M. of Swift Current No. 137.
Schultz said in previous year up to 500,000 litres of fuel might have been sold, but the current sales levels are not near that point.
“We’re doing what we can to promote the fact that we have fuel and the cardlock facility is quite attractive,” he mentioned.
Airport use for drag racing
Councillors approved an access agreement with the Swift Current Drag Racing Association (SCDRA) at their May 14 meeting to allow for drag racing events at the Swift Current airport.
“It’s a very popular event in the community and actually in the surrounding areas,” Schultz said. “We get numerous fans and participants, so it’s an opportunity for people who don’t normally do anything at the airport to get out there and see the facility.”
The three-year agreement for the period June 1, 2012 to Sept. 30, 2014 provides for three two-day events each year. The compensation rate will be $800 per day of each event with an annual $25 increase.
The level of activity at the airport will be assessed after this agreement expires to ensure that future drag racing events can still take place without any disruptions to airport operations.
The three-year agreement will provide some stability to the SCDRA for planning their events.
“That group has made some investments in some of their equipment,” Schultz said. “At the same time not limiting ourselves should we not be able to accommodate them in the near future if traffic levels increase.”
The airport will be closed during drag racing events, but it can be opened up again for aircraft in a very short time period in case of an emergency situation.
“It does impact operations somewhat,” he said. “However, we’ll be doing our best to accommodate as many airplanes prior and after the event and of course emergency airplanes will be accommodated instantly.”

Read 4836 times Last modified on Thursday, 17 May 2012 07:26

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