Tag: Myrtle Beach International Airport

Snowplows at Myrtle Beach International Airport

Approximately 10 years ago, the Myrtle Beach International Airport bought eight trucks with attachable snow plow blades with a grant from the Federal Aviation Administration.

The airport really didn’t want snowplows. It wanted trucks to use in maintenance around the airport and it wanted a maintenance building, built with another FAA grant, in which the trucks and other things would be stored.

The snow plow grant was approximately $300,000 and the grant for the maintenance building was approximately $1 million.

Myrtle Beach International Airport

Closing the WestJet Deal

Horry County Council members approved a method for paying WestJet the approximately $583,000 it owes the Canadian airline from a deal approved by council last February.

The payment will come from accommodations tax revenue the county receives, called holdback funds, which council personally directs the expenditure of.

Hopefully council learned a lesson about attempting to buy business from this debacle.

Myrtle Beach International Airport

WestJet End Game

Horry County Council will vote on a proposal to pay the county’s approximately $570,000 bill to WestJet Tuesday night bringing an end to the WestJet guaranteed revenue saga.

The proposal, which gained approval of the Administration Committee, last week will have the county’s current set aside portion of accommodations tax money, $250,000, paid to WestJet immediately.

The Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce will pay the other $320,000 and recoup that money over the next few years from annual accommodations tax set aside funds the county receives.

Horry County and the WestJet Guarantee

Horry County has finally made public the full extent of the cost to county taxpayers for the deal the county signed with WestJet to bring the Canadian airline to Myrtle Beach International Airport.

According to a press release from Horry County Public Information Officer Lisa Bourcier, the county expects to owe WestJet $570,000 by the end of the year.
The county entered into an incentive agreement with WestJet in order to attempt to open up new markets to the airport.

It was our original understanding, from members of council, that the county was guaranteeing WestJet against loss, in the first year of these new routes, up to $1 million.

Budgets - Cuts, Spending and You

ITAP Grant Symptom of Federal Money Woes

A recent grant announcement in the amount of $3.7 million from the Federal Aviation Administration to the International Technology and Aerospace Park (ITAP) at Myrtle Beach International Airport is a symptom of the greater problems affecting federal government spending.

While ballyhooed locally as a great aid to luring businesses to the now vacant facility, it’s really nothing more than pork barrel spending.

The 400 acre site, and plans to build this grand aerospace park, grew out of the failed West Side Terminal project at Myrtle Beach International.

The land was originally purchased, with a $12 million grant from the FAA, to be the site of the airport’s new west side terminal.

Myrtle Beach International Airport

Horry County Airport Problems

The recent firing of Horry County Airport Director Mike La Pier was not only precipitated by the guarantee to WestJet costing the county $500,000.

As one council member said, ‘that was just the straw that broke the camel’s back, but there were a lot of other straws.’

Several months ago, the airport advisory board heard from a consultant group hired by the airport department pushing, among other things, a new airport master plan that called for a second runway to be built.

Anyone living here before 2007 knows that is probably the stupidest recommendation made to the airport board in the last six years.

WestJet Guarantee to Cost Horry County Half Million

If current passenger expectations remain valid through the end of October, Horry County will pay WestJet over $500,000 pursuant to a guarantee to the airline county council approved in February 2013.

According to a source familiar with airport operations, the county is already in the hole to WestJet to the tune of $325,000 and expects the bottom line, after WestJet ends this year’s operations October 31st, to be approximately $510,000.

County council approved setting aside a contingency fund of up to $1 million that would be used to guarantee WestJet 60% occupancy, the break-even point for WestJet, on each flight to Myrtle Beach. The county would buy up empty seats on each flight so WestJet would not lose money.

WestJet won’t lose money, but the county did.

Grounding Helicopter Amusement Rides

Horry County Council will consider a resolution at its July 16, 2013 regular meeting calling for non-renewal of the lease with Huffman Helicopters at Myrtle Beach International Airport with a view to stopping helicopter amusement rides from that location.

The resolution will notify Huffman Helicopter that the county does not intend to renew its current lease for the Myrtle Beach International location when the lease runs out on October 31, 2013.

Huffman Helicopters has a maintenance shop location at Myrtle Beach International and a helicopter amusement ride at Grand Strand Airport in North Myrtle Beach that will not be affected by the resolution.

Myrtle Beach International Airport

Chicken Strips, Clam Chowder and MBIA Master Plan

A new airport master plan update is being proposed for Myrtle Beach International Airport. Horry County council’s Administration Committee will hear about it Friday at the MBIA conference room.

Will it be time for a new chicken strips and clam chowder agreement?

It is fair to say that anyone who does not know the details of the last chicken strips and clam chowder agreement should not be discussing a new airport master plan. This includes our current airport department staff.

The last airport master plan update for MBIA was completed just five years ago. Among other things, it restricted the airport to one runway and provided for an expansion of the existing passenger terminal on the east side of the runway.

Instead of expanding the existing terminal for $40 – $50 million, Horry County Council allowed itself to be persuaded into approving a $120 million terminal “enhancement” project, which really meant a new passenger terminal with some refurbishment and new uses for the old terminal.

That wasn’t too hard, it wasn’t their money council was spending.

Horry County Council and Its WestJet Guarantee

The vote by Horry County Council earlier this week to set aside a contingency fund of $1 million to guarantee Canadian airline WestJet from suffering losses on new passenger service to Myrtle Beach International Airport continues to be a topic of discussion by the general public.

Several times this past week I was asked the question, “What is Horry County Council thinking by guaranteeing a private business against losses?”

My first inclination was to respond that ‘Horry County Council thinking’ is an oxymoron, but I settled for ‘I don’t have the slightest idea.’