Air board changes fuel pricing

Herald Staff Writer

Monday night, the Dubois County Airport Authority changed how Huntingburg Airport will set the price for its aviation fuel. Pilots of smaller planes were critical of the change, urging the board to conduct the fixed-base operator service more like a competitive business.

Jet A fuel, used by jet planes, will now be set at the wholesale cost plus 50 percent, or $4.95 per gallon, with discounts of up to 50 cents per gallon for those who purchase more than 100 to 500 gallons at a time. Since taking over the fixed-base operator in March, the airport has sold 6,640 gallons of Jet A fuel and about 1,550 gallons of 100 Low Lead, used by smaller, single-engine aircraft.

The board set the price of 100 Low Lead at the wholesale cost plus 50 cents for self-service and regular base customers, or the wholesale cost plus 15 percent for transient users.

This is a price increase of about 20 cents for 100 Low Lead, up from $5.54 to $5.73 for self-service and from $5.79 to $6 for full service. These prices will actually drop to slightly below their previous rates after July 1, when a state sales tax changes from 7 percent of the total price to 10 cents per gallon.

Until now, the airport’s fuel prices were set by averaging the prices at several surrounding airports.

That didn’t make sense in the context of Huntingburg Airport’s costs, board President Michael Cummings said. The new rates were proposed at an April 30 meeting of the board concerning the fixed-base operator.

The new price ensures that the airport can recover enough profit to pay for its overhead costs like insurance, Cummings said.

Several pilots of single-engine planes who regularly use the airport attended the meeting and offered their comments.

“I don’t want to sit here and be critical, but I was under the impression when you guys took over (the fixed-base operator) that you were going to set it up as a business,” pilot Jim Kulbeth of Huntingburg said. Prices should be competitive, not just set so that the airport doesn’t lose money, he said.

Cummings said that the price-setting change was an effort to make the price more transparent and that the current rates are a necessity.

“We’re not asking anybody to buy fuel at a price they don’t want to buy. We’re selling fuel at a price we have to sell at,” he said.

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