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Tuesday, July 7, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Spokane

Spokane, Spokane County approve $89 million airports budget, expect more than 4 million annual passengers

UPDATED: Thu., Dec. 5, 2019

Spokane International Airport is receiving a $29.6 economic relief grant from the Federal Aviation Administration. The airport is among 62 in the state to receive funding under the CARES Act enacted to help offset the economic impact of the coronavirus. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)
Spokane International Airport is receiving a $29.6 economic relief grant from the Federal Aviation Administration. The airport is among 62 in the state to receive funding under the CARES Act enacted to help offset the economic impact of the coronavirus. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

The Spokane County Commissioners and Spokane City Council approved this week an $89 million Spokane Airports budget, which is slightly smaller than last year’s due to a decrease in projected spending on infrastructure projects.

The Spokane Airports budget is split between its three facilities: the Spokane International Airport, which has an $84.4 million budget; Felts Field, which has a $2.9 million budget; and the Spokane Airport Business Park, which has a $1.8 million budget.

The City Council approved the budget Monday, and the County approved it Tuesday.

County Commissioner Al French, who is a member of the airport board, said this year’s budget anticipates a decrease in infrastructure projects and a growth in passenger numbers.

“Financially, the airport’s in great shape and ready to accommodate more growth,” French said.

The airport’s budget is split between capital projects and operating expenses. While the capital budget decreased by 16.1% due to fewer projects being in the works, the operating budget increased by 9.1% due to more passenger activity, according to budget documents.

Airport traffic has increased every year since 2013, with a record of nearly 4 million travelers last year. The number of passengers increased by 12.1% from 2017 to 2018. In 2019, officials project a 2.5% increase.

If this year’s projection holds, airport spokesman Todd Woodard said the board anticipates there will be more than 4 million passengers for the first time.

Next year, officials expect that number to grow by another 2%.

Though both the city of Spokane and Spokane County must approve the budget, they do not contribute funds to it. The airport’s biggest sources of revenue are parking, ground transportation, airline-terminal rent, car rentals and landing fees. Spokane Airports also receives funds for projects from the state and federal governments.

The Spokane Airports’ biggest operating expense is personnel, which accounts for about 34% of its budget, and maintenance of its facilities, which accounts for almost 25% of its expenses. Snow control and grounds maintenance is the third biggest expense at about 9%.

The Spokane International Airport has budgeted for $7.7 million in federal grants next year, compared to $18.6 million last year. Officials also budgeted to spend $24.4 million less on the airfield and fuel than it did last year, but more on parking and ground transportation.

Woodard said airport infrastructure projects change year to year, depending on whether they are under construction or being designed. He said the budget projects for next year include improvements to the terminal C parking lot, installing explosives-detection and -screening devices, working on the Mamer clock at Felts Field and building an aeronautical-themed playground next to Felts Field’s Skyway Cafe.

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