Believe it or not, parking is the largest revenue generator for many airports.
Thats true across the country, and its true in Boise. Parking makes more money than airline fees or rent, than restaurants or other vendors, Boise Airport Director Rebecca Hupp said.
That money goes a long way toward propping up the rest of the airports operations, including maintenance and payroll, Hupp said.
Somehow, even as the number of passengers getting on and off planes dropped during the recession, the amount of money the Boise Airport took in from parking stayed pretty stable over the past five years.
Thats probably due to the fact that customers who could find room only in more distant and cheaper lots before are now parking in premium spaces in the garage and outdoor lot just north of the terminal, Hupp said. But even with traffic at the airport down from its 2007-2008 peak, she said, parkers cant find premium space one-third of the time.
At peak times, customers have to park in a satellite lot that was built in 2010 and is otherwise closed.
The chance to increase airport income through premium parking spaces is part of the reason the airport plans to expand the garage, Hupp said.
More important, she said, is the fact that officials want to make sure theres plenty of premium parking at what they hope will become a much busier airport.
We want to be prepared, too, for the next 20 years, Hupp said.
Hupp said airport officials originally considered leasing some of the expansions space to rental car companies, but thats not in the plans now.
On Oct. 16, the Boise City Council approved plans to sell bonds for about $15 million to finance most of the parking garages $18 million expansion. That action was made possible by the 2010 passage of House Joint Resolution 5, a voter-approved constitutional amendment that allows regional airport authorities in Idaho to borrow money as long as its repaid through airport income, not through tax allocations.
Boise resident and City Hall watchdog David Frazier fought the airports push to borrow money for the garage expansion in 2004, to the point of appealing to the Idaho Supreme Court when a district judge ruled that the loan should be allowed.
It was the Supreme Courts 2006 ruling overturning the district judges decision that set the stage for HJR5.
Today, Frazier said, hes made peace with the resolution and the parking garage expansion loans he opposed.
Im a strong advocate of power to the people, he said. In this case, the power was taken away from us. But it was taken away through a vote.
Sven Berg: 377-6275