In light of the recent article on significant (42 percent) declines in passengers coming into and departing the Hilton Head Island Airport, several taxpayer-generated questions need to be asked of and answered by Beaufort County decision-makers.
Does the county have a “Plan B” if precipitous drops in the number of passengers continue and American Airlines decides to leave? From a business perspective, it is highly unlikely a replacement airline would move in if the existing airline found business unprofitable/unsustainable.
What is the justification for the county to expend in excess of $3 million to $4 million of local taxpayer funds in addition to tens of millions of state/federal taxpayer-provided funds on runway extension and terminal improvements, if there is risk of commercial operations being lost? The costs significantly exceed benefits.
How will the county replace revenues currently derived from commercial services that now re-pay $2 million to $3 million owed by the airport to the county’s general fund for past loans? The airport owes the rund (i.e., taxpayers) more than $1 million just to repay past cost overruns. This amount will increase as the county pays its share of the cost of capital projects (i.e., runway extensions).
Can planned expenditures for airport expansion be justified if the airport becomes a private-pilot-only general aviation airport? This would result in major county costs for a very minor population of our taxpayers.
Finally, current Dash 8 aircraft servicing Hilton Head have 37 seats, not 48 as reported.
Hilton Head Island