Lower winter storage rate at Sawyer OK’d

MARQUETTE – Sawyer International Airport officials are looking to attract light aircraft owners to store their planes at the region’s largest airport over the winter.

The Marquette County Board voted unanimously Tuesday to authorize airport staff to implement a special winter hangar storage rate. A similar reduction was put in place in 2011.

Winter storage of light classification single-engine planes will cost $80 a month and $90 each month for light classification twin-engine aircraft.

Those winter rates are for a public hangar where several planes are stored together. Normal rates, which are for private T-hangar facilities, are $140 a month for a single-engine plane and $190 a month for a twin-engine aircraft, DuRay said.

“What this is, is somewhat marketing trying to entice aircraft that are not currently lodged at Sawyer to come up here and store their aircraft for the winter,” Sawyer Manager Duane DuRay said. “What we would do, if approved, is lower the rate – the initial winter rate – so that we would entice aircraft to come up here.”

Boreal Aviation has also offered to include a special rate for aircraft annuals during the winter months.

“We do have hangar space. We have Hangar 662 that is 28,000 square feet,” DuRay said. “And we feel that this would be a good marketing tool to entice new users at Sawyer to come up here and possibly winter their aircraft here and then maybe see fit that they would want to make this a permanent base.”

Commissioner Steven Pence asked if the reduced rates would be available to current customers.

“This is kind of a program that we’re not opening up to current residents or current based aircraft, granted there is a risk that if a lease comes up during this time that they could utilize this promotional offer,” DuRay said.

Pence responded: “I was just more concerned about them feeling like they’ve been with us for a while and their not being treated the same as the new kid on the block. But you’ve considered that?”

DuRay said: “Yes,” adding it is unknown whether light aircraft owners will seek out winter storage locations.

“So there is no guarantee that Sawyer will have any takers,” DuRay told Marquette County administrator Scott Erbisch in a memo. “Consequently, the cost of printing the flyers and bulk mailing may not be recovered.”

Commissioner Bruce Heikkila wanted DuRay to send email advertisements to aircraft owners as a cheaper alternative to direct mail. DuRay said that would be considered using a Federal Aviation Administration Website to identify aircraft owners.

John Pepin can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 206.