Charleston airport poised for growth

By Lauren Ratcliffe
Published Nov. 13, 2012

The Charleston County Aviation Authority reviewed its financial standing for fiscal 2012 this morning and prepared to discuss paying for a hefty terminal redevelopment project.

Sue Stevens, director of airports for the aviation authority, said from 2001 to 2012 average fares increased 2.2%, only slightly above the national average. During that time ancillary fees, including baggage and convenience charges, have increased dramatically.

“What’s significant about that,” Stevens said, “is (those fees) aren’t included in the trust fund where we gather money for capital improvements.”

Without increased revenue from fares, paying for projects like the now $199 million terminal redevelopment project at the Charleston International Airport become more challenging.

Elliott Davis conducted a financial audit of the authority and did not find deficiencies in internal controls over financial reporting and no instances of noncompliance with matters related to government funds.

For fiscal 2012, the aviation authority had operating revenue of $28 million, an increase of 8% over 2011. Much of that revenue came from parking and rental car charges.

“For the first time, parking exceeded rental car revenue,” Stevens said.

Stevens said financial and other business indicators put the Charleston airport in a good position to borrow money and follow through with plans to refurbish and grow the airport.

The aviation authority will meet Thursday to further discuss redevelopment plans and how to pay for the effort.

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