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Airport slow to recover compared to other Hurricane Harvey projects

Posted: 10:24 PM, May 06, 2019
Updated: 2019-05-06 23:24:42-04

With Rockport reporting that 90% of its businesses that were open before Hurricane Harvey hit are back open there is one that isn’t recovering as quickly – the Aransas County Airport.

“We’re not 90% recovered at the airport,” airport manager Mike Geer said.

Routinely, Geer says the airport makes a $12-15 million yearly impact to the local economy, but that’s not likely the case right now with one of the airport’s revenue streams inactive. Harvey destroyed nine hangars on the airport grounds that normally would be rented-out and bringing-in money for the airport.

“We had quite a setback,” Geer said. “Losing all of that space… you can imagine that was a revenue source for us.”

Fuel sales and land leases are providing some revenue for the airport, but Geer is eager to get new hangars built. It’s a weeks-long project to simply get the designs approved by the Federal Aviation Administration, and then when they’re finally standing, it’s uncertain if customers will rent them.

“Until we’re able to support ourselves again with hangar rent and getting some planes back at this airport, we’re not going to be recovered,” Geer said. “And we’re a long way from that.”

Rotorcraft Leasing Company is a business that operates from Aransas County Airport. RLC pilots use helicopters to fly petroleum engineers back and forth to offshore oil rigs. Pilot Mark Rollston is appreciative of the progress the airport has made in the 20 months since Hurricane Harvey.

“This is a nice operation,” Rollston said of the airport. “The county really did a bang-up job with the terminal, and they’re in the process now of building nice, new, modern hangars. It’s great.”

Geer hopes lots of people share Rollston’s opinion. He wants to get his airport back to full operations, so it can better help the city and county in their recovery processes.

“The folks that are going to invest in your community fly into your airport, and they fly out, because time is money to those people,” Geer said.