Kevin Duggan, The Coloradoan
The winds of change have not been kind to the Fort Collins-Loveland Municipal Airport in recent years. Local officials hope to do something about that as soon as possible.
For those new to the area, the airport is west of Interstate 25 and north of Crossroads Boulevard. It has operated since 1965 and is jointly owned by the cities of Fort Collins and Loveland, which contribute equally to its operations and maintenance.
Quite a few private aircraft use the airport, including corporate jets and medical flight services. The U.S. Forest Service recently took out a temporary lease on some airport facilities to support its regional fleet of heavy tankers used in firefighting.
The airport lost its lone commercial carrier in 2012 when Allegiant Air inexplicably took off, so to speak. Since then, the airport has struggled to get by without the revenue Allegiant brought in.
Municipal and business leaders often refer to the economic importance of the airport to the region and speak of turning a “diamond in the rough” into something spectacular.
How to do that has been the topic of discussion for some time, as airport staff and city representatives have worked on an economic development strategy for the facility. The vision for the airport still includes having regularly scheduled passenger air service, though other, less volatile options also are possibilities.
Development of airport-owned land might prove more lucrative and sustainable than air service. To that end, officials are considering changing how the airport is governed to a system that is more flexible and able to react quickly to market situations.
Currently, the airport is overseen by a steering committee made up of the managers of both cities and the mayors. The committee has no authority. All airport decisions involving finances are made by the councils of both cities.
That can take a lot of time and a lot of meetings.
The steering committee has proposed changing the airport’s governance model to a commission that could make decisions. The commission would include representatives of the cities, perhaps the managers and mayors still, but it also would have citizens with an interest in helping the airport succeed.
The seven-member board could make business deals without the permission of the councils, though the councils would still have to approve the airport’s annual budget.
The idea received a lukewarm reception from Fort Collins and Loveland council members during a joint meeting last week at the airport.
With a brutal wind rattling the terminal building where they met, some council members were openly skeptical about what difference the proposed system would make. Other options were kicked around, including just turning over the airport to one of the cities to operate.
In the end, the councils agreed to continue talking about the proposal. Staff members were told to flesh out their ideas and bring them back for more discussion by both councils in the coming months.
The direction given by council members appeared reasonable enough. But one could argue it showed exactly why making changes at the airport takes so long.
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