It was hoped the grand opening would be Jan. 8, on the same day as a morning meeting of the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce, but authority members voted Monday on the later date.
Cleveland Municipal Airport Authority members also voted on a hybrid arrangement between airport manager Mark Fidler and Crystal Air, which will continue as the fixed-base operator.
Crystal Air began operating Hardwick Field on May 1, 2007. The airport authority has been searching for a way to keep Taylor Newman and Crystal Air at the new airport on Dry Valley Road, but could not come to a satisfactory financial arrangement.
CMAA Chair Lynn DeVault said two previous proposals were rejected “because they couldn’t cover our light bill, but I think we now have one that has addressed what we have said,” DeVault said. “Money issues are now pretty close together. It would be $6,000 (a year) more to use Taylor than to go the other way.”
Under previous scenarios, Crystal Air would have received proceeds from fuel sales. Under the new arrangement, the city will receive proceeds from fuel sales as well as terminal space and hangar rental. The city will then pay Crystal Air for staffing the facility and management of the terminal building, maintenance hanger, T-hangars and regular and preventive maintenance on the airport, including groundskeeping.
Crystal Air will monitor the hourly need per day for FBO services, but would initially start by staffing the airport from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Staff would include one full-time and three part-time personnel.
“If we do not choose the FBO, we will not have the flight school and we will not immediately have on-site mechanical, though we could probably get somebody to come up. We would not have charter service immediately available,” DeVault said. “It is more expensive to go that way, but there are some things that would come to the airport that would not otherwise be immediately available.”
However, a manager with three part-time employees could probably offer cheaper fuel, which would attract more transient traffic. That type of arrangement would be more profitable in terms of fuel sales, but the same person responsible for pumping gas would likely be the city’s ambassador to business executives and state officials.
Three things are different between the two management structures. The manager plus the three part-timers included $33,000 budgeted for miscellaneous items such as paper, printing and postage. That money will be paid directly to Crystal Air under the manager-FBO arrangement. Also, salaries will be paid to Crystal Air at a pass-through rate based on hourly rates plus 30 percent. Third, the airport will give up $12,000 in rent from the community hangar.
The terminal building is expected to be turned over to the airport authority on Dec. 12.