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Tia Lyons

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After nearly two years, construction could be completed within the next month on a new corporate hangar at South Arkansas Regional Airport at Goodwin Field.

The El Dorado Airport Commission heard an update on the $1.6 million project this week.

Blake Roberson of Garver Engineers said rain and cold temperatures have hindered progress in recent weeks, but the project could be completed within a month.

“We’re getting close,” he said, adding that he had asked contractor Dayco Construction for a schedule of work that remains on the project.

Construction began in February 2014 on the 130-by-115-square-foot community hangar. Airport commissioners have said it will help generate revenue for the airport and meet growing demand for hangar space, particularly for overnight parking.

The project has been slow-going, having faced several delays, including inclement weather and a lack of steady progress by the contractor early on.

Roberson told commissioners that Dayco will take care of punch-list items, dressing up the site, seeding and other issues to wrap up construction in coming weeks.

Jeff Teague, chairman of the airport commission, told Roberson that a rubber boot had not been properly installed on a door in the hangar.

“I have talked to those guys about that, and they will address it,” Roberson said.

Also included in the job is a new concrete ramp and parking and terminal lighting improvements.

The project is being covered by a combination of state and federal grants and $850,000 from the former El Dorado Forward economic development tax.

Roberson said about $500,000 remains in the payment schedule.

Commissioners also approved new guidelines for fuel pricing to help pull in new customers and reward existing ones who regularly purchase fuel at the city’s fixed base operation.

The commission discussed the issue last month when SARA manager Timothy Johnson proposed the incentive by changing the discount rate based on the volume of fuel purchased.

On Monday, Johnson reported that jet fuel sales through November came largely from transient traffic (nearly 42 percent).

SeaPort Airlines, the area’s Essential Air Service carrier, purchased 38.8 percent of jet fuel, and the remainder of sales (19.4) came from based aircraft.

Johnson proposed new discount rates based on a three-month buying history for customers.

They include the greater of 40 cents or 12.5 percent per gallon up to 500 gallons; 50 cents or 15 percent for 501 to 999 gallons; and 60 cents or 17.5 percent for 1,000 or more gallons.

For based aircraft (AvGas) prices, Johnson proposed a discounted rate of 15 cents per gallon for any quantity.

Teague clarified that the FBO had been offering discounts, but Johnson’s proposal would change the rates and formally adopt the way the discounts are calculated.

Teague also said that more fuel has been sold at SARA since the city took over the FBO in 2010.

“Before then, we were not selling anywhere near the gallons we’re selling now. The increase came when we became competitive with the prices,” he said.

Johnson told commissioners that fuel Jet A prices were down in November, hitting the lowest sales of 2015 at 15,126 gallons and trailing behind the second lowest month of August at 16,534 gallons.

“Because of the weather, we just haven’t been that busy,” Johnson said.

Teague noted that low-lead fuel sales have been on the upswing for the past several months after having dropped earlier in the year.

“That’s a nice trend,” he said.

Johnson also said that SeaPort continues to see healthy loads after switching its Dallas route to Houston in September.

He said the number of passengers have dropped off since the airline’s introductory rates for Houston flights ended on Oct. 15.

“Some days are better than others,” he said, pointing out that the airline still offers one flight a day Houston.

Johnson said SeaPort is encouraged bythe community’s response to the Houston flights and is considering boosting the number of daily flights there to two, which was the number of daily flights to Dallas.

SeaPort also offers flights to Memphis.

Also, the commission:

  • Approved the 2016 budget for the airport.

The budget, which projects $325 in revenues over expenditures, will forwarded to the El Dorado City Council for final approval.

  • Tabled action on a proposed hangar rental agreement until the next regular meeting on Jan. 11, allowing commissioners time to review it.

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