By Annette Manwell
The West Michigan Regional Airport is one of more than 5,000 airports in the U.S. used by businesses, according to an August Forbes article.
The information was shared Monday with the West Michigan Airport Authority Board.
“Commercial airliners have access to only 500 airports,” according to Betsy Donnelly’s article “Business Aviation: The Unfair Advantage.”
Businesses have the option of 10 times the number of airports available to commercial airlines, it read. The cost of operating an aircraft compared to time spent at a commercial airport, food, lodging, car rentals and time away from family have made the use of business planes more popular.
The role of airports serving business is a key topic for the board, with its millage renewal request approved for the Nov. 6 ballot. The WMAA has beefed up communications with the public in Park Township, Holland and Zeeland about what the airport does.
“This is a viable business,” Park Township Trustee Michael Toscano said. “We wouldn’t want to see any business on Eighth Street going out of business.”
Those who represent the authority need to explain why there is a need for an airport and especially why there is a need for a terminal, Toscano said, adding the information in the Forbes article would be useful for that purpose.
The authority was formed by public vote in May 2008 by the three municipalities. Holland Township voters turned it down. The airport’s 0.10 mill tax is up for renewal on the November ballot.
The authority budgeted $44,000 to get the word out about the authority before the vote. It has funded a video and is buying advertisements in local media outlets. A postcard will be sent to voters as well.
Toscano thought informational kiosks in downtown Holland and Zeeland also could be helpful.
According to the Forbes article, about 3 percent of the nearly 15,000 business planes registered in the U.S. are owned by well-known companies. The rest “are operated by a broad cross-section of the organizations, including governments, universities, charitable organizations and businesses — large, medium and small.”
Representatives on the authority board agreed that more businesses, no matter the size, are operating planes for business use.