Anchorage airport may raise fees for pilots and businesses

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Rates and fees at Anchorage’s city-owned airport may increase soon, officials said.

Merrill Field airport plans to request that the city raise rates on leases, parking and airplane fuel paid by businesses and pilots, The Anchorage Daily News reported Sunday.

The 90-year-old facility also plans to charge for services previously provided at no cost such as document preparation, said Ralph Gibbs, who became the airport manager in September 2018.

The airport has spent more than it has made for about four years to complete federally-subsidized improvement projects, while a savings account from a land exchange has been depleted, officials said.

The airport has proposed raising the cost of aviation fuel by two cents per gallon and leases by four cents for each square foot (0.09 square meter). Aircraft parking fees would go up 15%, long-term vehicle parking would rise about 50%, from $45 to $70 per month, and monthly medevac fees would increase.

Merrill Field, which is not subsidized by local or state taxes, is the second-busiest airfield in Alaska behind Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport.

“Other airports are charging less, some of those are subsidized by the state,” Gibbs recently told Anchorage Assembly members. “We are not, we have to break even, which is the driving force behind those numbers.”

The city should provide more support for the airport instead of burdening leaseholders, some business owners and pilots said.

Terry Cartee, a flight instructor and member of the Municipal Airport Advisory Commission, warned assembly members that the changes would drive away business.

“These guys don’t have to be at Merrill Field,” Cartee said.