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Friedman Memorial Airport will conduct its first testing of a real aircraft that will follow a new landing approach procedure on Saturday from Boise to Hailey that has been approved by the FAA.

Administrators of Friedman Memorial Airport are proposing raising parking fees at the airport to have funding to complete a variety of deferred maintenance projects that have been on the waiting list for more than 35 years.

At an Airport Authority meeting Tuesday, airport Manager Chris Pomeroy explained that parking fees have remained the same for the past five years, as the airport has continued to see increased use and wear.

According to a presentation by Chris Johnson with C.A. Johnson Consulting, the parking consultant hired to assess the parking lot’s activity, 76 percent of vehicles that go through the parking area at the airport do not pay for parking.

That percentage was based on a six-month study that took place between January and June. At Friedman, most vehicles are only on the lot for the free 30 minutes or less. In addition, half of current revenue goes toward payroll, including a cashier at the exit booth to disperse change when someone pays with cash instead of a credit card, leaving only half for capital improvement projects and equipment upgrades.

Currently, drivers who park at the airport pay nothing for the first 30 minutes, $2 for parking 30 minutes to an hour and a half, $3 for an hour and a half to two hours, $4 for two to two and a half hours, $5 for two and a half to three hours and $10 for three hours or more, a day.

Since 2000 there have been three rate increases, one for 30 minutes to an hour and a half in 2002, one for rates between an hour and a half and three hours in 2004 and a dollar increase in 2014 to the three hour/all day rate.

Johnson presented two scenario options for increase—one that would add a dollar to the hour-and-a-half, two-to-three-hour and daily rates and a second that only adds a dollar to the daily rate, which provides the most revenue, according to the six-month assessment.

The rate adjustments would help to fund parking lot asphalt that hasn’t been replaced in more than 35 years, according to Johnson, and additional parking capacity and would help to keep pace with rising expenses.

“I say we get in the black and stay in the black,” authority board member and Hailey Mayor Fritz Haemmerle said at the meeting Tuesday.

Ultimately, the board asked that additional projections and analysis be done before the next monthly meeting to move forward with one of the proposed rate changes or possibly a third scenario that will be proposed after additional analysis is completed.

In other airport news, residents can expect a low-flying plane around 9:30 a.m. Saturday, with continued landing and takeoffs for about an hour and a half as the airport tests a new landing approach procedure that has already had a successful flight simulator session, passing FAA flight standard review. The step on Saturday will be a validation with a real aircraft that will take off from Boise and land at the airport Saturday morning, weather dependent. The new procedure, being tested by Skywest Airlines, will allow for fewer flight diversions during periods of bad weather at the Hailey airport.

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