Covington continues to make upgrades to the city’s airport and is seeing increased traffic.
The city recently installed two new 12,000-gallon fuel tanks to replace two 10,000-gallon tanks that had been corroded over the years, said Airport Manager Vincent Passariello. The tanks, which are steel and double-walled and were approved by fire authorities, cost approximately $230,000, but Passariello said the money will be reimbursed by the federal government frequently provides money to upgrade and develop airports.
“We have had an increase in traffic, particularly in heavy jet traffic,” Passariello said, noting Baxter flies into the airport about once a month and Walmart jets have also been showing up more frequently. He said each time a large jet comes, the company general purchases hundreds of gallons of fuel.
The city sells between 8,000-12,000 gallons per months and sees about 450 flights per month – take offs and landings are counted separately – Passariello said.
The city has around 40 customers who purchase hangar space for planes and around 15 who tie their planes down on the apron. The Covington Municipal Airport Authority recently completed 12 new T-hangars, which are all filled; five of the tenants were completely new customers to the airport, he said.
Eventually, the city is planning to build a new terminal building and a more prominent corporate and public entrance to the airport on the southeast side of the airport off Ga. Highway 142 North.
Work is currently stalled pending more funding, but the work that was completed in June 2013 included removing trees and grading land, completing all environmental assessments and requirements and building an apron – where aircraft are parked, loaded, boarded and refueled – on the southeast side. He said the work also brought higher-pressure water service to the airport, including installing two hydrants inside the airport property. Part of the work to add a sewer connection to the airport has also been completed.
Passariello said the city has requested $3 million in federal funding for 2015 to finish work on the southeast side. In April 2012, the Covington City Council approved a design for a $1.53 million terminal building. Plans also call for more hangars.
The airport’s budget for the 2013-14 year was $4.1 million, though $3.3 million of the total was federal funds, with the remaining approximately $800,000 coming from city funds.
Passariello said the change he’d like to see as soon as possible is an upgrade to the city’s lighting system, including more landing lights and lighting on the taxiway and approach lighting to help with night flights and those in low visibility.
In other news, Passariello was recently named to the Covington Municipal Airport Authority, a move he said will hopefully better align that group’s efforts with the airport’s development. The authority’s priority is to add more hangars as future revenue allows. The authority’s only source of revenue is hangar rental – and land rental for one company that built its own hangar.