PITTSTON TWP. —Thanks to increased rates for parking at the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport, the facility was able to report an annual increase in parking revenues even though the number of vehicles parking at the airport dropped year-to-year.
In June 2012, the airport’s Bi-County Board raised parking rates in the airport’s parking garage from $7.50 per day to $9 per day. The board increased rates in its surface lot from $6.50 per day to $7. Without those increases, it’s likely the airport would have reported its first dip in parking revenues in quite a few years.
In an annual parking report shared at Thursday’s board meeting, Airport Director Barry J. Centini said the number of vehicles that parked at the airport between July 1, 2012 and June 30, 2013 totaled 220,115. That’s a decrease of 1.8 percent, or 4,143 vehicles from the prior fiscal year.
But the revenue generated by those 220,115 vehicles was $2.2 million, an increase of 6.8 percent, or $139,900.
Centini said “all in all, we’re satisfied with our parking” and said the decrease in the number of people using the airport to fly out of Avoca correlates with the dip in parking. While unable to show concrete evidence linking the two, he said he believes a decrease in the natural gas drilling industry is a factor in the drop.
By counting out-of-state license plates using the parking facilities, airport officials believe they can glean the gas drilling-related vehicles. Out-of-state plates totaled 43,133 last year, or 19.7 percent of the overall number of vehicles parked at the airport. The total is a 2.4 percent drop from the previous year.
When taking a closer look at the breakdown of vehicles parked in the surface lot and the garage, the numbers are up 6.6 percent in the first, but down 7.4 percent in the latter category.
In other board action, members voted unanimously to award a contract in the amount of $33,650 to B&H Taxilane Lighting, of Barton, N.Y. B&H offered the lowest of the four bids received to install a navigation device called a Precision Approach Path Indicator on the runway. The lighting system helps pilots navigate during a landing.
Some board members, including Lackawanna County Commissioner Jim Wansacz and Luzerne County Council President Tim McGinley, voiced concerns over why B&H’s bid was so much lower than the other three. The next lowest bid was offered by Everon Electrical of Wilkes-Barre a for $74,428. The other two were from Cavanaugh Electric of Wilkes-Barre, at $76,166, and Kuharchik Construction of Exeter, at $97,497.
Airport engineer Steve Mykulyn said the company has done work at the airport before, most recently a signage and lighting project, and has come in at or very close to its original bid. He was unsure why the other bids were close to twice the amount offered by B&H.