Cherry Capital Airport Rising With TC

Many new and exciting changes took place in 2014 at Cherry Capital Airport. New business opportunities from fueling to flight instruction, festivals to flights, our airport has seen the positive growth continue in a way the rest of the nation has not. Why? TripAdvisor said it best … in naming Traverse City a Top 10 Destination on the Rise.

Yes, we are on the rise as our airport supports more than $200 million in annual economic impact to the community. Cherry Capital Airport is owned by both Grand Traverse County and Leelanau County and is operated by the Northwestern Regional Airport Commission. The mission of the airport continues to follow three principles: Safe, Secure, and Self-sufficient.

The airport is inspected and regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration and the Transportation Security Administration on a daily basis. The airport also has to meet federal grant requirements to be self-sufficient – this is not only a requirement but a badge of honor as many airports rely on local taxpayer dollars to fund the operations and maintenance of their airport. Cherry Capital Airport does not. How do we do it?

The airport supports an annual budget of approximately $5 million. Our budget receives revenue from only those that use the airport. Our customers encompass businesses that lease space from the airport (for example Delta Air Lines, Avis Rental Car, Cherry Country Traditions) to serve the traveling public.   The airport also receives revenue from the following sources: land, terminal and hangar rent; landing fees; aircraft fuel sales; auto parking; ground transportation fees; advertising and concessions. Also of note, our revenue stream does not include airfare. Airfare is what the airlines charge – not the airport.

The airlines are our tenant, they provide and set the price of the product, and they pay rent to the airport; similar to a business that leases space from the Grand Traverse Mall or the City of Traverse City. The airport provides the infrastructure for the tenants to conduct business. Our expenses are very similar to most businesses in our town: utilities, waste collection, equipment, grounds maintenance, fuel, personnel, snow plowing, insurance and training.

The Airport Commission is very proud that we do not have a local millage or have to request money from our two counties that own the facility. However, it is important to point out, in order to stay financially healthy we need the local traveler to use the facility.Not only does flying from TVC improve your air service, your flying keeps the airport from being on the local tax rolls. The airport is an economic tool for our local businesses to be able to reach the world to sell their products and services.

Flying from TVC also brings in more federal grant dollars. Through the Airport Improvement Program, the airport receives about $1.7 million from the ticket taxes charged by the federal government. So the taxes collected on the ticket are returned to the airport by a formula based on the number of passengers that travel out of our facility. If you travel out of another airport, the other airport gets your ticket tax dollars. Why not have your dollars support your local airport? These dollars can only be spent on capital items like snow plows, fire trucks, runway and taxiway improvements and terminals.

So, a big thank you to each traveler who flies TVC! Also, thank you to all the business partners and community champions that use Cherry Capital Airport not only as a tool but as a place to do business.   Our focus will continue to be on growing the opportunities for businesses and visitors to our region in a safe, secure, and self-sufficient way. 2015 looks to be another great year!