Hangar addition passes first run; Officials OK extra $1 million for more space

City officials have given initial approval to allow the Columbus Municipal Airport to use an additional $1 million from its own reserves to provide infrastructure to provide more hangar space.

Columbus City Council last week approved the additional appropriation for the airport, which would be used by corporate tenants for ramps and taxiways for the hangars. The council will consider the appropriation for a second and final time at its 6 p.m. Sept. 5 meeting at City Hall.

Airport Director Brian Payne told the council the money is from the airport’s own aviation reserves and will not result in any increased taxes. The airport currently has more than $4 million in its cash reserves fund, said Jamie Brinegar, the city’s finance director.

The airport has been saving money toward the project, Payne said. The airport does not receive city tax money but relies on land leases for farming, aviation fuel sales and proceeds from operating the airport to support the facility.

The city had previously allocated $600,000 for the hangar project, but airport officials said the opportunity is available to expand the project to house more aircraft at the city’s airport.

Payne said the airport is home to 81 aircraft and every hangar on airport property is full; 18 aircraft are on a waiting list for storage space.

The airport recently conducted a survey of pilots within 30 miles of the airport and received responses from 59, Payne said. Thirteen of the responses indicated the pilots were in favor of moving their planes to Columbus and 16 asked to be notified when hangar space becomes available, he said.

Of the five surrounding airports near Columbus, out of 309 public hangar storage units available for lease, only four indoor airplane storage units were available in Seymour. There were some open air storage units (covered but open to the elements) in Shelbyville and North Vernon.

The hangar configurations proposed for the expansion allows flexibility, for up to four single engine or one corporate jet to be stored in each, Payne said.

Adding more hangars will result in more operations (take-offs or landings) and fuel sales, which provides income to the airport, he said.

The airport has the flexibility of building its own hangars, or leasing the land to a corporate entity that would build its own hangar on the airport property, Payne said. Large hangar owners can then sublet portions of their hangars to other pilots if they wish, he said.

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Julie McClure is assistant managing editor of The Republic. She can be reached at jmcclure@therepublic.com or (812) 379-5631.