Two thoughts on reading Noel Oman’s report in today’s Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that the Little Rock Airport Commission has voted to pay off outstanding bonds that will leave the airport debt-free, one of a very few in the country in such a position.
* BOOKKEEPING FOR BEGINNERS: How do you pay off debt in one whack? By having a big surplus of cash. How do you have a big surplus of cash? By operating at a healthy profit. How do you operate at a profit? By charging more for services than they cost to provide (and by being smart in tapping available federal sources of airport cash). How do you make money when your customer count has been in a general decline for more than a decade, including a steady drop in each of the last four years (counting 2015), plus loss of a major aircraft company tenant? By charging more for services, be they boarding fees added to tickets or parking or concessionaire charges that find their way into the price of the hot dog.
* THOSE COVETED SEATS: Oman mentions that two commissioners, Tom Schueck and Bob East, have reached the two-term limit as commissioners and Wesley Clark won’t be seeking another term. That gives Mayor Mark Stodola three appointments (subject to confirmation by the City Board). With the unofficial female seat filled and the unofficial two minority seats filled, that leaves the question of which rich white businessmen will nab the (curiously) coveted slots. Pushy types preferred.