Record-breaking fuel sales, quality service and facility expansions pushed the Moore County Airport into the black for the first time with the facility reporting a positive cash flow of $153,552 from operations in 2015.

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Coy Barton, Moore County’s auditor, gave the commissioners the county’s audit during their meeting Jan. 25, and he said the airport’s greatly improved financial standing is due to Brandon Cox, the airport’s manager.

Cox has worked at the airport for 16 years and has been the manager since 2007. In the early years of his employment, fuel sales topped at about $43,000, but it has soared under Cox’s management. In 2015, the airport sold about $750,000 in fuel.

“About 75 percent of our transient business is fuel sales,” Cox said. “A lot of people fly in to buy fuel, and they know we’re going to get them in and out.”

Airport customers also have access to courtesy cars, and Cox said about half of the people who fly in for fuel go to town to eat. Many of them spend the night in Dumas, Cox said.

“The airport does have a positive impact on the local economy, and it’s pretty significant,” Cox said. “The expansions we’re working on will increase that impact.”

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Construction of a 110-foot by 100-foot hangar and an 80-foot by 40-foot restaurant are underway at the airport. The hangar is expected to be finished in May, and Cox expects an August completion date for the restaurant. TxDOT aviation paid $1,520,827 million toward the $2,062,782 million cost of the hangar, leaving the balance to the county. However, $100,000 of money the county pays will be refunded, and it will be used to cover the hangar’s utility installation costs. The restaurant is funded by a 50-50 matching TxDOT Routine Maintenance Program grant. The state put in $50,000, and the county matched it with another $50,000.

“The expansions are going to increase the airport’s profits,” Cox said. “The foundation of our success is built on our reputation for quality customer service and our low-priced fuel. It’s low because it comes from Valero, and we don’t have the freight charges airports further away have to pay.”

Moore County is one of many in Texas that have benefited from TxDOT’s grooming of airports they have identified as playing a key role in the state’s economic and social development. TxDOT guides federal and state funding to local governments to help them boost their economies through aviation.

“Our primary goal, which has been accomplished, was to create a statewide system of airports that would accommodate statewide air transportation needs and serve as a catalyst for economic development,” David Fulton, director of TxDOT’s Aviation Division, reported. “We provide the funding and manage the construction to ensure that every community has the type of airport needed to serve their short- and long-term air transportation needs.

“The geographic dimensions of Texas dictate that many companies maintain aircraft to transport personnel and shipments to areas not serviced by commercial airlines. Air ambulances, agricultural pest operations, law enforcement, fire fighting and offshore oil operations all require dependable aviation infrastructure.”

Aviation operations can be critical to local economies, according to a report from the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts. General aviation activities and expenditures associated with Texas airports, business activities and visitor spending resulted in $14.6 billion in economic activity in 2010 and supported more than 56,000 jobs paying more than $3 billion in salaries and benefits, according to TxDOT.

Cox expects to bring some of that money to Moore County.

“We still have plans for the airport’s growth,” he said. “We’re not resting on the success we’ve already achieved.”

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