News

Landing fees approved for San Carlos and Half Moon Bay airports

Fees will increase Surf Air's operating costs

Landing fees that will offset some of the San Carlos Airport's additional operating costs incurred since Surf Air started using the airport for scheduled commercial flights in 2013 have been approved by the county.

The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors unanimously adopted the landing and overnight parking fees at its Tuesday, Aug. 8, meeting. The landing fees, which apply only to a class of aircraft that includes charter operators and Surf Air, are effective immediately at both the county-owned airports, in San Carlos and Half Moon Bay.

The $75-per-landing fee means Surf Air would pay $444,600 a year for its current 114 weekly landings.

County Public Works Director Jim Porter said landing fees are charged at "most general aviation airports in the area and in the state."

Mr. Porter's report on the requested changes says the landing fees are recommended to offset the costs of maintaining runways, taxiways and aircraft parking areas at the airport. The report says that while the number of aircraft using the airport has remained steady over the past five years, the number of commercial operations "has increased significantly" during that time.

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The increased commercial use has resulted in additional "staffing, expanded hours of operation, increased use of airside and landside airport facilities and maintenance, increased runway striping costs, unplanned runway and taxiway maintenance, pilot and community outreach and education programs, and associated flight management databases," the report says.

The supervisors also approved a $10-per-vehicle overnight parking charge at the San Carlos Airport for commercial operators not based at the airport, which Mr. Porter said will help during events, such as the Burning Man festival, that keep the airport busy with charter flights and create a demand for overnight parking.

Although an agreement the county has with the Federal Aviation Administration prohibits "unjust discrimination" against airport users, County Counsel John Beiers insists that the new fees meet the FAA's legal requirements.

"The County is fully aware of its grant assurance obligations to avoid unjust discrimination," he told the Almanac in an email. "We have designed the landing fee ordinance to distinguish among users based upon their impact to the airport and its facilities.

"Airports routinely distinguish between and among different classes of users (e.g., general aviation, airlines, flight training, sky diving, etc.) and impose different rules on different classes of users based upon how each user group uses the airport. We are focusing our attention on one class of airport user and, as the staff memo has explained in great detail, we are comfortable that the distinctions are neither unjust nor inappropriate."

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Surf Air began using the San Carlos Airport for scheduled flights in June 2013. Soon after, complaints started pouring in to the airport about noise from Surf Air planes. The airline offers customers unlimited flights for a monthly fee and has had as many as 45 scheduled flights a day to or from the airport.

Because Surf Air's Pilatus PC-12s carry fewer than nine passengers, under FAA regulations the company may operate out of the San Carlos Airport even though it is a general aviation, not a commercial, airport. The facilty is considered a "reliever airport," keeping small planes out of busy regional airports such as San Jose, San Francisco International and Oakland.

The county's new fees are similar to those charged at other general aviation airports in the Bay Area. The Palo Alto airport charges $73.50 landing and $7 overnight parking fees, and Reid-Hillview in San Jose charges $74 landing and $7 overnight parking fees.

An automated aircraft monitoring system provided by Vector Airport Systems, approved by the supervisors in June, makes it easier to keep track of the landings. The $313,695 contract includes providing real-time flight tracking that has been integrated into the airport’s noise-complaint system and automatically photographing the tail numbers of aircraft using the airport.

A privacy policy for the camera feed was also approved. The policy is modeled on state privacy guidelines for automated license plate readers, which employ similar technology, because no other general aviation airport has a privacy policy, Mr. Porter said. The proposed policy was presented to the airport's pilots' association for comments prior to adoption and will be returned to the board for review in six months, he said.

No one from the public spoke about the fees or privacy policy at the meeting.

--

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Landing fees approved for San Carlos and Half Moon Bay airports

Fees will increase Surf Air's operating costs

by / Almanac

Uploaded: Wed, Aug 9, 2017, 11:46 am

Landing fees that will offset some of the San Carlos Airport's additional operating costs incurred since Surf Air started using the airport for scheduled commercial flights in 2013 have been approved by the county.

The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors unanimously adopted the landing and overnight parking fees at its Tuesday, Aug. 8, meeting. The landing fees, which apply only to a class of aircraft that includes charter operators and Surf Air, are effective immediately at both the county-owned airports, in San Carlos and Half Moon Bay.

The $75-per-landing fee means Surf Air would pay $444,600 a year for its current 114 weekly landings.

County Public Works Director Jim Porter said landing fees are charged at "most general aviation airports in the area and in the state."

Mr. Porter's report on the requested changes says the landing fees are recommended to offset the costs of maintaining runways, taxiways and aircraft parking areas at the airport. The report says that while the number of aircraft using the airport has remained steady over the past five years, the number of commercial operations "has increased significantly" during that time.

The increased commercial use has resulted in additional "staffing, expanded hours of operation, increased use of airside and landside airport facilities and maintenance, increased runway striping costs, unplanned runway and taxiway maintenance, pilot and community outreach and education programs, and associated flight management databases," the report says.

The supervisors also approved a $10-per-vehicle overnight parking charge at the San Carlos Airport for commercial operators not based at the airport, which Mr. Porter said will help during events, such as the Burning Man festival, that keep the airport busy with charter flights and create a demand for overnight parking.

Although an agreement the county has with the Federal Aviation Administration prohibits "unjust discrimination" against airport users, County Counsel John Beiers insists that the new fees meet the FAA's legal requirements.

"The County is fully aware of its grant assurance obligations to avoid unjust discrimination," he told the Almanac in an email. "We have designed the landing fee ordinance to distinguish among users based upon their impact to the airport and its facilities.

"Airports routinely distinguish between and among different classes of users (e.g., general aviation, airlines, flight training, sky diving, etc.) and impose different rules on different classes of users based upon how each user group uses the airport. We are focusing our attention on one class of airport user and, as the staff memo has explained in great detail, we are comfortable that the distinctions are neither unjust nor inappropriate."

Surf Air began using the San Carlos Airport for scheduled flights in June 2013. Soon after, complaints started pouring in to the airport about noise from Surf Air planes. The airline offers customers unlimited flights for a monthly fee and has had as many as 45 scheduled flights a day to or from the airport.

Because Surf Air's Pilatus PC-12s carry fewer than nine passengers, under FAA regulations the company may operate out of the San Carlos Airport even though it is a general aviation, not a commercial, airport. The facilty is considered a "reliever airport," keeping small planes out of busy regional airports such as San Jose, San Francisco International and Oakland.

The county's new fees are similar to those charged at other general aviation airports in the Bay Area. The Palo Alto airport charges $73.50 landing and $7 overnight parking fees, and Reid-Hillview in San Jose charges $74 landing and $7 overnight parking fees.

An automated aircraft monitoring system provided by Vector Airport Systems, approved by the supervisors in June, makes it easier to keep track of the landings. The $313,695 contract includes providing real-time flight tracking that has been integrated into the airport’s noise-complaint system and automatically photographing the tail numbers of aircraft using the airport.

A privacy policy for the camera feed was also approved. The policy is modeled on state privacy guidelines for automated license plate readers, which employ similar technology, because no other general aviation airport has a privacy policy, Mr. Porter said. The proposed policy was presented to the airport's pilots' association for comments prior to adoption and will be returned to the board for review in six months, he said.

No one from the public spoke about the fees or privacy policy at the meeting.

--

Comments

Well Done
Atherton: West Atherton
on Aug 9, 2017 at 1:31 pm
Well Done, Atherton: West Atherton
on Aug 9, 2017 at 1:31 pm

Thank you to the County Supervisors for their actions and for the Almanac's reporting.


gb
Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Aug 9, 2017 at 1:33 pm
gb, Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Aug 9, 2017 at 1:33 pm

Finally the Supervisors have stepped up to our suggestions, happy to see this change. I understand the skeptics who assume the county will enjoy the additional revenue and not take steps to modify the Surf Air Disruption.
It's a start toward gaining back the bucolic neighborhood we once knew and loved.


Gary Mull
Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Aug 9, 2017 at 2:46 pm
Gary Mull, Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Aug 9, 2017 at 2:46 pm

Glad to see action, but the fee will not deter Surf Air. They will simply pass the cost along to their customers. Given most of the Surf Air flyers are probably subscribed via business expense, it won't stop them from using the service. Now that the county has a new revenue stream, how likely are they to want to stop Surf Air from their continued nuisance flights over our homes?


common sense
Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 9, 2017 at 3:31 pm
common sense, Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 9, 2017 at 3:31 pm

I fail to see any victory here for those of us who have these noisy planes wake us up early every day, can't have conversations in our homes due to high noise levels, and keep us awake at night with their late night landings. Now the County will have no incentive to limit their flights since the County will now benefit from the new fees. I have never seen a government official who would take the side on the citizens over the revenue. Money is just going to be like crack cocaine to the County and I think we have just lost our battle. Surf Air will certainly opt to pay the fees and pass it on to their clients. I personally think we need to clean out the County Supervisors and replace them with more citizen friendly group.


Apple
Atherton: other
on Aug 9, 2017 at 4:30 pm
Apple, Atherton: other
on Aug 9, 2017 at 4:30 pm

@Common Sense

Actually, it is a win for your side.

Higher costs means flights with less demand are now more likely to be eliminated. Those flights tend to be late evening or very early morning (i.e. the ones residents complain they are woken up by).

Moreover, the county now has a revenue source to pay for staff time to make San Carlos less hospitable for SA....uh, I mean to work on airport affairs.

And who says this will be the final increase. Next year, the supervisors will find costs have increased. Time for another increase. And another.

It's the slow turn of the screw.

At some point, SA may find another airport, such as Palo Alto, more welcoming of its business and just get out of San Carlos.


Menlo Voter.
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Aug 9, 2017 at 4:35 pm
Menlo Voter., Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Aug 9, 2017 at 4:35 pm

"At some point, SA may find another airport, such as Palo Alto, more welcoming of its business and just get out of San Carlos."

Not PAO. Runnway isn't long enough.


Jetman
another community
on Aug 9, 2017 at 8:14 pm
Jetman, another community
on Aug 9, 2017 at 8:14 pm

Just great. The County Supervisors take steps to make sure these two County owned and operated enterprises are compensated for the increased cost associated with Surfair's operations, but nothing for the citizens that are suffering from the noise.

These are the same County Supervisors that created the problem in the first place by selling their rights and responsibility to regulate these airports to the FAA.

And people thank them! Please sir can I have another one?


Know the facts
Menlo Park: Downtown
on Aug 10, 2017 at 9:25 am
Know the facts, Menlo Park: Downtown
on Aug 10, 2017 at 9:25 am

Actually, PAO is long enough. PC-12's fly out of there all the time.

Yet another example of people commenting on these they don't know about.

Also, mean time between failure for a PT6 engine is about 300,000 hours. You're more likely to get hurt or killed by getting the mail than by an airplane overflying your house.


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 10, 2017 at 2:33 pm
Peter Carpenter, Atherton: Lindenwood
Registered user
on Aug 10, 2017 at 2:33 pm

A PC-12 with the number of passengers being carried and fuel loads required for the destinations that it serves is at a gross takeoff weight which requires a longer runway than is available at Palo Alto airport.

PC-12s flying in and out of PAO are no fully loaded with either passengers or fuel.


Menlo Voter.
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Aug 10, 2017 at 4:29 pm
Menlo Voter., Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Aug 10, 2017 at 4:29 pm

Know the facts:

Peter beat me to it. Agree with you regarding the PT-6. Also the PC-12 is the safest single engine aircraft in the world.


Name hidden
Atherton: West of Alameda

on Sep 24, 2017 at 5:19 pm
Name hidden, Atherton: West of Alameda

on Sep 24, 2017 at 5:19 pm

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?


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