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Minot airport proposes extending parking contract

Posted on 6/2/2017

Republic Parking Systems would continue to manage parking at the Minot airport under a contract extension supported by a city committee Tuesday.

The Minot Airport Committee is recommending the Minot City Council accept the contract, which includes a management fee negotiated down from $128,000 a year to $52,000 a year. Airport Director Rick Feltner said the lower fee is possible based on costs being incurred by Republic. It also reflects the elimination of Republic's costs of preparing a management proposal, which would have been necessary to retain a contact if the city decided to request new proposals.

Feltner said use of the parking is down, reflecting fewer airline boardings, but revenue is tracking close to projections. The biggest budget issue is parking expenses are up due to higher than anticipated snow removal costs this past winter, he said.

In April, commercial airline boardings in Minot were down 4.86 percent from 2016 to just over 11,000 passengers.

In information presented to the committee, Feltner discussed the community's concern that lower airline fares in Bismarck are contributing to Minot's boardings decline. He examined Delta Air Lines fares for leisure and business travelers and found less of an overall fare disparity in leisure travel than exists for business travel, which tend to be booked on shorter notice. For instance, a business flight to Minneapolis from Minot was 93 percent higher than a Bismarck fare, and a Phoenix fare was 15 percent higher in Minot. A Seattle fare was 9.7 percent higher in Minot, while Denver fares were the same.

A leisure traveler going from Minot to Minneapolis would pay 15 percent more than a Bismarck traveler going to Minneapolis, while the traveler would pay 27 percent more to go to Phoenix, in the point-in-time fare comparison. However, a flight to Seattle cost 9 percent more from Bismarck, and a Denver fare was $4 higher in Bismarck.

Feltner said costs of a ticket are influenced by competition due to the number of carriers, the number of available seats to fill and how full planes are when they depart. Bismarck has more airlines and about 30 percent more seats, he said. Minot has a fairly high load factor, with planes often leaving at 80 percent full or better, which means there's little pressure on airlines to reduce rates, he said.

© Minot Daily News