Business flights on upswing with hangar changes underway
Summer activity at the Monett Regional Airport has inched slightly higher than a year ago, though more business flights and fewer pleasure-connected trips slightly tipped the ingredients that led to that sum.
According to the weekday, business hour tally of flights in and out of the airport, a total of 2,175 take-offs and landings occurred between June 1 and Sept. 30, the busiest time of the year at the airport, up 22 from the same four-month period a year ago.
Flights by planes from Jack Henry and Associates and Marck Recycling, which is now leasing the former EFCO Corporation hangar, totaled 467, a five-year high for the four-month period and the second highest count in 11 years. That paired with business flights from other sources flying into Monett in near record numbers, 1,412, the second highest sum on record, only 40 less than the peak count in 2015.
That put business flights for work week business hours at 1,879, the second highest on record, down only four from the peak recorded number in the summer of 2016 and up 6 percent from a year ago.
Flights from planes not flying for business showed a similar drop. Planes based in Monett recorded 92 flights four the period, a drop of more than 50 percent from last year but still 13 more than two years ago.
In addition, 296 planes flew into Monett for non-business purposes during the period. Airport Superintendent Howard Frazier said many of those in July and August for years have been passing through on their way to the Osh Kosh, Wis., air show. The sum was 34 under two years ago, down 22 percent from last year, for the lowest total in five years.
With recent rains breaking the summer drought, Frazier said agriculture spraying, especially for the maturing bean crops, has picked up in recent weeks. Student flying has stayed busy, helping to increase the daily tally of operations.
The 2,175 total for the period is up 30 percent from six years ago during the economic downturn, but down 6 percent from two years ago.
For the year to date, recorded airport flights have totaled 94 less than last year’s pace. Frazier said with many Jack Henry flights leaving prior to 8 a.m. and returning after 5 p.m., the count never fully reflects activity at the airport.
Frazier said there have been some changes in patterns at the airport. The Joplin Stockyards now flies two jets out of Monett. Hangar G, south of the other airport buildings, previously leased to Golden Aviation, had been leased to Edwin Allen, doing business as N2Air for the past two years. Allen moved out on Aug. 31, opening other possibilities for that building.
Hangar G sits at two levels, with the smaller section on the east separated from the higher west section by a partial wall. Crews are making preparations to put two large overhead doors on the east end of that hangar. Frazier plans to store snow removal equipment there, including an 18-foot plow, freeing up storage space elsewhere on the grounds. New snow removal equipment was recently acquired from the Springfield-Branson Airport.
Frazier hoped an overhead door company could finish that project next week. The wall between the east and west sections would then be extended to the roof.
Frazier has proposed placing 20-by-75 foot wide doors on the west side of Hanger G, to make the building more usable for larger airplanes. Hangar B, for example, has a 16-foot opening and can hour a mid-sized jet. A 20-foot door on Hangar G will better accommodate the tail height of even bigger jets, increasing rental opportunities.
Frazier said additional apron work will be needed to bring airplanes into Hangar G from the west. Nonetheless, despite the expense, Frazier thought additional leasing of the building would pay for the door and help boost fuel sales. City Administrator Dennis Pyle, he noted, asked him to prepare a proposal for the next fiscal year that includes the west hangar door.
Frazier was upbeat about how the airport is running. He and his two full-time staff have kept busy on maintenance, fueling planes and moving planes in and out of hangars for clients.
“I think the economy is doing better, and everyone is doing a little better,” Frazier said. “Just by the look of things, I’ve heard business is doing pretty good. Jack Henry may be flying more than they ever have. Everything seems to be going good with all the tenants. They’re all busy.”
Preparations are continuing for the final purchases of land to move forward on the master plan to expand the airport. Once additional federal funding becomes available and the last land is acquired, design work will start for building a new, longer runway and expanding the facility.
Frazier reported renewing two of the farm ground leases for another year on land acquired for the expansion.
“We also are in the process of selling the hay at the airport outside of the safety areas and runway protect zones,” he said.