Tower funding the goal at airport
Officials are hoping the rejuvenation at Lake Tahoe Airport will guarantee a future for its control tower.
Before two commercial airlines came to the airport this summer, it seemed the deadline was always just on the horizon. Time after time city officials were informed that federal support for Lake Tahoe’s airport tower was running out.
The Federal Aviation Administration extended the tower’s weather observation contract to March 31, 2000. Airport management assistant Janis Brand said before that deadline is reached, the city hopes the federal government will once again pick up the tower’s tab.
“We’re still working with the possibility of being able to return to a contract tower where FAA pays the full cost, or continue as a shared operation. We’re showing flight levels that would more than justify a full FAA-paid tower,” Brand said.
After state grant money dried up in July, the city began paying $4,200 a month as its share of the tower costs.
In a benefit-cost ratio analysis in October 1997, the FAA determined the Lake Tahoe Airport had fallen below the critical 1.0 percent level for funding. The airport scored a “0.1.” A two-year commercial service drought pushed the airport below the FAA’s minimum. Brand explained that many factors go into the analysis including the number of flights, type of aircraft, number of passengers, safety, weather, and terrain.
“We have a legislative advocate that is meeting with the FAA in Washington. We’re trying to get this year’s benefit-cost ratio run early. Hopefully, then we will get back into the federal contract program,” Brand explained.
Allegiant Airlines started service to Las Vegas, Burbank and Fresno, Calif., at the beginning of June and was quickly followed by Tahoe Air, which offers flights to San Jose and Los Angeles. Allegiant now operates six days a week, and Tahoe Air seven days a week.
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