After-hours fuel sales a concern at Alva Regional Airport
June 18, 2021
The Alva Regional Airport is experiencing problems with a Fuelmaster credit card reader located at the fuel pumps for after-hours refueling. Airport Manager Derrick Courson told Airport Commission members Monday night that the card reader had been intermittent and now has basically stopped working. Courson said he’s been called a couple of times for after-hours refueling and stayed late once for a pilot who came in about 5:40 p.m.
He’s been told the card reader is out of date. “It is analog, and we moved past analog in the early 2000s. Syntech, the Fuelmaster company, is going to a cloud-based communication. We’d have to get a micronode which would transfer the analog to digital, but it is $700 just for that micronode plus $10 a month. It’s not really guaranteed to work for a long period of time,” he said.
Courson said he’s sent in the 90 day cancellation notice to the airport’s current fuel supplier which is effective Sept. 1. The airport is considering switching to ASAP to supply fuel.
“I think ASAP can help us out in quite a few areas,” said Courson. “They might be able to work with us on a new Fuelmaster as well.”
However, the airport wireless connection may not be able to communicate with a reader for fuel sales. Courson said that’s what he was told by an SPI Tech representative. The city has contracted with SPI to provide technical support.
Commission member Kelly Parker asked who provides wireless to the airport, Suddenlink or AT&T.
City Business Manager Angelica Brady answered, “AT&T and the infrastructure is very, very deteriorated and there’s not going to be any investment in new infrastructure.
“We have been testing at the Rec Center (Alva Recreation Complex), because they have the same issue. They have been testing some equipment through Nexlink there as their backup for when AT&T goes down for our phones and stuff. We are hoping if that is successful we can switch that over to be primary at the Rec Center. That would be something we could look at here as well. It is substantially better than what we currently have.”
“And Suddenlink doesn’t serve the airport?” asked Parker.
“No. We’re just kind of on the fringe,” answered Brady.
“It’s so crazy because they’re at the Homestead, and it’s a good service for the Homestead,” said Parker.
Courson expressed concern that the airport is missing out on revenue. Commission member Paul Kinzie said, “It’s great for after-hours fuel sales. It’s something we need to prioritize as far as fixing and maintaining.”
Continuing his report, Courson said he’s cancelled the Dish Network in the pilots’ lounge which was costing $60 per month for mostly local channels. He said those using the lounge rarely watch it. Brady said most probably use their own devices to watch whatever they want.
Kinzie’s hangar was invaded by honeybees. Courson said he called local beekeeper Jeremy Logsdon who came out and captured them. Courson was rewarded with some honeycomb and a jar of honey.
He reported on some issues with mowing equipment and repairs.
The airport sold $4,617.79 in 100LL avgas and $9,243 in Jet-A fuel during May. Adding some oil sales, revenue for the month was $14,787.86. Last year in May, the airport took in $12,040.78.
The airport has two mechanics available which is an attraction for some aircraft pilots. Courson said he occasionally has pilots ask and some have told him they won’t land at an airport without a mechanic.
Courson has been doing some public relations for the airport. He filled out an OAOA form for the airport spotlight and sent some photographs. The OAOA spotlighted the airport in their email.
When he started as manager, Courson said, a charter pilot from Florida asked if the airport was CAA (Corporate Aircraft Association). He had the same question recently from another charter from Minnesota. Courson learned CAA has a list of preferred fixed base operators that they circulate to their membership of about 10,000 pilots. He said there’s no cost to be on the list so he’s filled out an application. Alva will be submitted to the membership for voting. Generally the CAA pilots get a 10 percent discount on fuel at member airports. With Alva’s prices being so low, Courson wasn’t sure that would be required.
Kinzie asked when the airport ramp project is expected to begin. Brady said it has been delayed but the latest word is maybe late June.
The airport still has an opening for a second part-time employee but has received no application. This has resulted in Courson working a lot of overtime.
City Council Report
Dale Logsdon presided over the meeting with Kinzie and Parker present. Calleb Mosburg was absent. The commission is still short one member.
Parker, who is also mayor of Alva, said he had two recommendations to fill the vacant position on the airport commission but both said they could not do it at this time. He has been talking to someone else, but that person is still deciding.
“I don’t know that Angelica would share this sentiment, but I really feel like we’ve gotten off to a good start as a city council,” said Parker. “Our committee meetings are going real well. We’re probably operating as a council as well as we have been since I’ve been mayor. Our council members are attending our committee meeting regularly as intended, and Angelica’s doing a great job of making sure we’re all prepared for different discussions and things like that that are happening.”
He said the city has been working with the State Auditor and Inspector’s Office in the citizen’s petition audit with Brady bearing the brunt of the work. “A lot of the things that have been identified throughout this process have already been corrected within the last 12 to 15 months or so,” he said. “As soon as we knew there was a problem, we took measures to correct the problem.”
Brady reported the city council approved opening a checking account for the airport fund, and she’s been working with Treasurer Trent Goss to get that set up. The first deposit will be the approximately $350,000 the city has set aside to repay the airport for FAA funds borrowed from their account.
“That puts us ahead of schedule,” she said of the repayment. “I think speaking for myself and Mayor Parker we’re excited about the fact that things are moving in that direction.”
“And council is hoping to be able to do the same amount next year,” said Parker. “I think the ten year plan was at about $119,000 a year so to be at $350,000, I’m pretty happy with that.”
Parker said the city is anticipating receiving approximately $800,000 from the American Rescue Plan but they are still waiting to hear how it can be spent. It was not included in the 2021-2022 proposed budget so will require a budget amendment later.
Looking at the accounts receivable report, Parker said he noticed some people have credit in one fund and a balance due in another. He asked if those couldn’t just be swapped out.
Courson said those overpayments were designated as applying only to hangar rental.
“The hard part is we don’t really have any policies on charging for fuel,” said Brady. “We put our policies in place for hangars but not for fuel. It’s (balances owed for fuel) not horrible, but it could stand to be better.” She suggested the airport commission might look at setting a policy. “It’s kind of like it has a loophole,” she said.
Regarding airport fuel truck repairs, Courson said Moser’s have it in the rotation. He said the vehicle won’t start so it will have to be towed there.
During commission member comments, Kinzie said on Saturday, July 31, his family is holding a celebration of life for his father Wayne Kinzie. They are expecting a number of former employees to attend, and the Kinzie Museum at the airport will be open for tours. He said there may be a lot of vehicles needing parking so he wanted to notify the airport of the extra traffic.