Airport Expansion Takes Off
February 10, 2016
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  • The Valdosta -Lowndes County Airport Authority discussed ongoing work on the apron expansion project Wednesday.

    With the apron area cleared, construction crews are prepping the area to pour the concrete foundation.

    The airport’s apron is the area where airplanes are parked, refueled, and loaded and unloaded.

    A six-inch base of granite gravel will be laid down before adding a foot-thick layer of concrete on top of it.

    The concrete foundation will need 28 days to cure.

    Authority members approved working with Zane Benefits to verify employees’ independent personal health insurance.

    The cost of using Zane is a $1,000 one-time charge, along with a $35 registration charge for each full-time employee who registered.

    After that, there would be a monthly $12 administration charge for each employee.

    Full-time airport employees, whose health insurance plan is verified by Zane, will receive a pre-tax stipend added to paychecks to help offset insurance premiums.

    Currently, $2,500 per year is budgeted per employee for the stipend, or a little more than $200 per month.

    The authority also approved changing the position of security coordinator from part-time to full-time.

    “I don’t know if that’s the way we want to go, but I’d like to have the authorization if we decide to go that way,” said Jim Galloway, airport manager.

    That change to full-time would reduce the hourly pay to $10 an hour.

    The change would cost a little more than $9,000 yearly.

    Galloway pointed to higher than expected car rentals and the airport taking direct control of airport advertising as possible ways to fund the increase.

    Enplanements (number of people who fly out of Valdosta) for January were at 2,643, down from December (3,253) and down from last January (2,713).

    The load factor — the percent of seats filled on a flight — was at 62 percent for January.

    Air traffic for January was at 1,620, down from December (1,130) and down from last January (1,639).

    Galloway presented ticket price comparisons between the Valdosta Regional Airport, Jacksonville International Airport and Tallahassee Regional Airport for 13 destinations.

    Comparisons found Valdosta airport prices less expensive than Tallahassee Airport for eight of the 13 reported destinations and cheaper than Jacksonville Airport for two of the 13 reported destinations, provided a 21-day advance purchase.

    Five corporate hangars and six T-hangars are available for rent.

    The next meeting of the VLCAA is scheduled for 8 a.m., March 9, at the airport.

    The meeting is open to the public.

    Stuart Taylor is a reporter for the Valdosta Daily Times.