Reader's view: Sky Harbor Airport is a financial drain
Too much money is being spent perpetuating Sky Harbor Airport, which is used less frequently and with far less economic benefit than claimed (Opinion page debate: “Planes vs. pines,” Aug. 27).
The economic impact study presented to the Duluth City Council on Aug. 26 by Duluth Airport Authority Executive Director Brian Ryks lacks credibility. As I heard him at the presentation, Ryks said Sky Harbor was not a “controlled” airport, meaning there’s no information about the number of flights there. Yet, 2008 “data,” which he earlier claimed to be non-existent, were used by an economic impact calculator to estimate the yearly economic impact of Sky Harbor at $1.4 million. This does not pass the smell test. Garbage in, garbage out.
The authors of the calculation made two crucial disclaimers. First, they wrote in the study that “the only airports for which this site will not work are Duluth, Rochester, and Minneapolis/St. Paul.” Moreover, they said the report was only as accurate as the facts used to create it. Its simulators and calculators depend on accurate statistics to be valid. Where did numbers come from that were fed into the calculator since none supposedly exist? Why would a computer application, inappropriate for Duluth, be used to produce this “report?”
Subsidized by tax dollars, Park Point’s airport is, in reality, a private airport for 35 to 36 private planes. It lost $15,068 in 2006, $53,722 in 2007 and $64,692 in 2008, according to airport authority operating income reports. Is it an income generator or a liability?
Duluth’s 2011 economic forecast looks bleak. I sincerely hope the Duluth City Council closely examines the viability of Sky Harbor Airport before spending from
$3.9 million to $5.6 million to redirect the runway, in addition to the $800,000-plus “in local funds” for the federal scoping document and environmental assessment.
Before trusting, verify!