By Eric Norwood Jr.
PNT staff writer
Operations at the Portales Municipal Airport are looking up, according to operations manager Mike Parkey.
“We’ve seen one of our largest months ever as far as I can remember this past May,” said Parkey, referring to fuel sales.
Parkey said there has been a definite uptick in traffic as well.
“We average between eight to 10 operations per day. The past three years were terrible. Over that time period we averaged about six operations per day,” said Parkey.
One plane landing and departing equates to two operations according to Parkey. Parkey attributes increased traffic to more people coming into Portales for business.
“We have had dairy flights, construction workers flying in, quite a few lawyers flying in, even real estate has jumped a little,” said Parkey.
The airport’s sources of income come directly from fuel sales and hangar rent. On average, fuel sales generate $60,000-$80,000 in a year while hangar rent brings in about $35,000 a year, according to Parkey.
Fuel sales come from an array of sources, including agriculture planes, private planes, and even the Care Flight helicopter at Roosevelt General Hospital.
“Before they switched companies, the helicopter would only gas up here in case of emergencies. But this company fuels up locally, which really helps,” said Parkey.
Despite the rise in business, the Portales Municipal Airport still doesn’t break even financially.
“I’d say we draw on average about $10,000 from the general fund to make up from wages and everything. We aren’t at the break even point yet but we’re getting close,” said Parkey.
Parkey said he does not envision a situation where he could see the airport closing down.
“I don’t think so. It brings too much to the city. It would be a huge hit to the city if it were to ever happen,” said Parkey.
Low fuel prices and good service are what Parkey says keeps bringing in customers.
“When you have an airport this small, that’s what you have to do,” said Parkey.