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Small Plane Owners, Private Airports Feeling Tough Times

As pilot Craig McLeod starts his plane’s engines, his passengers are paying more for flights these days. Rising fuel prices over the summer have passed on to those taking to the skies.

“We have cut back some of our flying because of it. It used to always be a third of the cost for operation of the airport. Maintenance hasn’t gone up, but fuel has. Now, it’s up to 45 percent of the operation.” said McLeod.

Bermuda Dunes airport is one of the few privately owned airports around. Business is down for these small airports nationwide. So far, Bermuda Dunes looks to the skies hoping to see the “snowbirds” coming in on wings of their own.

Airport Manager Mike Smith explained, “Summer time, we’re 20 percent down in our activities and fuel sales and we coincide with the economy in the country. In addition to that, the fuel price this summer was extremely high.”

Down from a high of more than $7.40 a gallon, aviation fuel is now down to $5.60.

Even still, that can keep corporate and charter jets sitting in the hanger.

“Some of those executives now have a choice, are flying airlines, maybe going first class or coach in some cases.” said Smith.

This airport and the people it employs survives off those high-end travellers and those keeping their planes here as a hobby. As pilot Craig McLeod prepares his next flight, he may start wondering: at what cost?

KESQ News Team

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