From day one the Lansing Municipal Airport has used the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) from the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) to provide funding for development projects. The program is designed to ensure the continuation of safe and efficient operations of its facility and maximize opportunities for economic development in Illinois.
TIP was not designed to provide money to operate the airport but to allow its growth, so that it could become financially self-sufficient through aviation-related activities. Operational funding is generated mainly from airport tenants, including Fixed Based Operators (FBOs), T-hangar rentals, and other aircraft owners who use the airport.
A good business plan would dictate that those airport activities could be designed to produce the funding needed so that the airport would be able to pay for itself, and would not require any long-term support from its governmental sponsor, in this case the Village of Lansing.
As of the beginning of 2021 the Historic Ford Hangar has been boarded up for five years. It is not serving any aeronautical purpose and not providing any source of revenue to the airport.
Lynne Ques restaurant has replaced Shannon’s Landing. This business has no aeronautical purpose, yet it provides the airport its second most significant source of annual revenue.
The main source of revenues comes from the business activities generated from the Village-owned hangar at the 3259 building—once called the Chicago Business Air Center. At the March 21, 2017, Village Board meeting, Resolution 996 was approved. That authorized the creation of a Concession Services Agreement between the Village and Midwest Aerospace, LTD use of the building.
The Lansing Municipal Airport website explains Midwest Aerospace as partnered with CAPSO International, their facility in Tucson, AZ, which supplies overseas military and civilian customers with U.S.-made aircraft parts and avionics from its location at 3259 Airport Drive in Lansing.
Midwest Business Center is listed separately as also located in the same building and is advertised as being able to provide FBO support to visiting aircraft passengers, flight crews, and corporate flight operations.
The airport’s website also establishes Windy City Aero as a separate business in the same hangar that offers aircraft repairs, maintenance, and marshaling to the airport. Windy City Aero has a Commercial Operating Agreement with the Village to operate its business on airport property, for which they pay a monthly fee of $100 dollars. Records also show that other FBOs operate businesses from offices in the same hangar:
- Region Flyers has one of their offices based in the 3259 building. They opened their business in Lansing in June 2017 and were given a Commercial Operators Agreement allowing them to provide flight and ground instructions, aircraft rental, and sales of charts, books, and other related materials. Region Flyers pays $100 dollars a month rental fee to the airport.
- SummerSkyz, Inc. is a helicopter training school and claims to be open seven days a week to provide all training needs. They also have a Commercial Operators Agreement with the Village. They pay a monthly fee of $100.
- Last year a company called Aurora Helicopters was advertising as doing business from that same building. They have a Commercial Operators Agreement that provides $100 dollars to the airport each month.
The Midwest Commercial Operators Agreement with the Village that manages the hangar includes a provision that the concessionaire shall not sublease, assign, or contract any of the rights and privileges under the agreement with any third party without the consent of the Village and expressed written approval of the airport.
The airport’s annual budget projections show their rent as $3,000 a month. It includes an escalator clause that requires an annual rent increase. Midwest is still paying that same rent.
In August 2020 IDOT made an initial offer of a grant to the Lansing Municipal Airport to “Rehabilitate Lighting for Runway 18/36 & Related Parallel Taxiway-Remove and Replace Lighting for Runway 18/36 and corresponding parallel taxiway on same circuit.” Administrative procedures would be required but the project would be approved if those procedures were followed. The total project cost would be $1,250 with a local match share of $62,500.
The question becomes, Has the Lansing Municipal Airport been generating enough money to take advantage of this opportunity? If not, why not?
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