Lake Norman & Mooresville

Statesville seeks county support to hire airport manager

The Statesville City Council approved a new position in city government – airport manager – to take over day-to-day airport oversight operations from the planning department.

The salary range for the job is between $53,900 and $87,400 and the council is asking Iredell County to pay one-third of the salary for a minimum of five years.

The Iredell County Board of Commissioners is expected to consider the city’s request at its Dec. 16 meeting; Statesville Planning Commissioner David Currier is hopeful for approval.

“The airport operations have been under the planning department since the late 1970s,” Currier said. “Having a manager dedicated full time to the airport makes sense.”

Mayor Costi Kutteh agreed: “In my opinion, the time to do this is now as our economy continues to rebound.”

The hiring of an airport manager already has the unanimous support of the city’s airport commission, a six-member group that meets monthly to review airport operational policy issues.

In a memorandum to the city council requesting approval for the new position, Assistant City Manager Lynn Smith said that hiring an airport manager at this time would help the city meet a number of key goals, including improved capacity to market the airport as a regional economic driver and providing enhanced relationships with current airport customers.

“The availability of a full-time individual with more specialized knowledge relative to airport activities, operations and navigational aids would be a plus, as well as greater attention to grant acquisition and oversight,” Smith added.

At its Dec. 1 meeting, the council also directed the city to ask the county to pay a third of the cost for a new market-assessment study regarding the airport.

“This airport has huge potential,” said Councilman Michael Schlesinger in voicing his support for the position and the market study.

The Statesville Regional Airport is a general aviation airport on 412 acres owned by the city, just south of U.S. 70, on the west side of Statesville. There are both corporate tenants as well as private tenants at the field, including aircraft operated by some NASCAR racing teams. The fixed-base operator (FBO), Statesville Flying Service, provides opportunities for flight chartering and flight training to the general public.

Historically, the county and city have been partners in the funding of the airport. Most recently, the local match for a grant that funded the rehabilitation and strengthening of the airport runway, taxiways and apron was shared between the city and county.