Tue, Jan 05, 2010
Some Have Put Business Expansion Plans On Hold
Several skydiving businesses that
operate from DeLand Municipal Airport (KDED) northeast of Orlando,
Florida, say that a city plan to construct a control tower at the
airport will hurt their businesses. They are concerned that a tower
would reduce the number of skydiving flights they would be able to
make in a day.
The City Commission has approved a plan to build a tower, but is
waiting for FAA approval and an AIP grant to help fund the project.
Airport officials say the tower is needed to improve safety at the
field. The tower is expected to cost about $1.2 million, and the
FAA would also pay controllers once the facility opens, which is
now planned for sometime in 2011.
The Daytona News-Journal reports that 16 skydiving businesses
operate at DeLand, and some have been in operation for as many as
30 years. "If they reduce the number of jumps our customers can
make in a day, the whole point of our being here will have gone
away," Roger Allen, president of Alti-2 Inc., which manufactures
and sells altimeters, told the paper. "International sky-dive teams
spend tens of thousands of dollars on these camps, and the whole
point is to get in as many jumps as possible."
Some companies are delaying
expansion, and another told the paper it was making its business
"easy to move." Mike Johnston, general manager at Skydive
DeLand, said he contacted the 16 sky-dive-related businesses at the
airport, and compiled figures that they employ 500 people with a
combined annual payroll of $33 million.
City Manager Michael Phelpes said the key issue is safety, and
he and the city commission believe that adding a control tower at
KDED will make a significant improvement in that area. FAA
spokesperson Kathleen Bergan said a decision on the tower will
likely come sometime this year.
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