Sunday, August 20, 2006
High fuel prices hit Mojave’s airport
By ALLISON GATLIN
The Antelope Valley (CA) Press
MOJAVE – The high cost of fuel is hitting aviation in much the same way it is affecting drivers’ pocketbooks. For the Mojave Airport, this means a precipitous drop in fuel sales, an important source of revenue. The airport sold 85,000 gallons less in July than the same month the previous year. This is reflective of a continuing pattern that has held for the past several months. One exception to the trend was May, when a project using a FedEx airliner at airport tenant Flight Test Associates led to a jump in fuel sales.
Mojave long has advertised low fuel prices in order to entice customers, a ploy that does not seem to have the effect it once did.
“We have not had a single airplane land here for cheap gas,” said General Manager Stu Witt, who noted Mojave’s prices are $1.50 to $2 lower than areas such as Bakersfield and Palm Springs.
“I don’t think low prices get people here.”
General aviation airports primarily sell two types of aircraft fuel: 100 octane low-lead, known as avgas, and jet fuel, typically called Jet A.
As of Friday, Mojave sold avgas for $4.10 and Jet A for $3.47 per gallon.
Mojave does not set its fuel prices based on other airports but based on its own costs and profit margin, said Erika Westawski, East Kern Airport District finance director.
The dropoff in fuel sales, falling below what was projected, has an impact on the airport’s bottom line, she said, and will have to be made up elsewhere should it continue.
California City Municipal Airport has not seen the same slowing fuel sales.
“We haven’t been impacted because we’ve been maintaining a somewhat lower margin on a per-gallon basis,” said Terry Hicks, assistant city manager.
Fuel at California City was $3.80 per gallon for 100 LL and $3.25 for Jet A as of Friday.
Gen. William J. Fox Field, the Lancaster airport operated by Los Angeles County, has noted a small dropoff in recreational fliers due to increased fuel prices.
“Things are slower than they have been in the past. If you go back a few years, we’re selling less fuel across the board,” airport Manager Steve Irving said.
With prices stabilizing, “I think people are starting to adjust to the cost of fuel,” he said. “I think people are understanding it’s here to stay.”
Fox Field was selling avgas for $4 per gallon and Jet A for $3.65 as of Friday.
According to the Web site AirNav, fuel prices in a 50-mile radius of Mojave Airport sold for an average of $4.36 per gallon for avgas and $4.05 per gallon for Jet A.