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AUSTIN EXECUTIVE AIRPORT
A History of Austin's Newest General Aviation Airport
R
on
W. H
enRiksen
Chapter 12
engaged in aviation for many years. After step-
ping down as CEO of Logix Communications
in 2006, and given that I had the financial re-
sources to do pretty much whatever I wanted,
I decided it was time to get re-involved with
aviation in a significant way. This is all my way
of saying that building an airport fulfilled a
personal need. Where that need comes from
exactly, I couldn't say.
A Long (Long) Term
Investment
For all its drawbacks, I believe that Austin
Executive Airport is a solid financial invest-
ment in the long-term. The key word here is
long-term. Most if not all business startups
lose money in the early months or years.
Most owners pray for the day their fledgling
businesses reach breakeven--that magical
moment when revenues meet (or, cross our
fingers, exceed) expenses. From this day
forward, the theory goes, the business is
making a profit.
What would happen, however, if you de-
viated from the norm, if you ignored break-
even, tuned out short-term profits and quar-
terly forecasts, and instead considered only
the long-term impact of the business? What
would happen if you looked ten or twenty or
even forty years into the future and evaluat-
ed your return on investment from this long-
term view?
If you are inclined to gaze this far into the
future with me, here's what I see: I believe the
Austin Executive Airport will be the financial
homerun of all times. I predict that at some
point, years from now, Austin city officials will
wake up and realize they have a longstanding
privately owned airport--Austin Executive
Airport--now completely surrounded by busi-
nesses and homes. Future real estate develop-
ers have gobbled up tens of thousands of acres
in ever widening circles around downtown
Austin and built new homes, shopping malls,
hospitals and other institutions required to
serve a growing population. Not only is Austin
Executive Airport landlocked by homes and
businesses, but future local airports must by
necessity be pushed farther and farther out of
town-- making them less desirable, less con-
venient, less financially viable, and thus less
likely to get built.
Here is a little known fact: Airports and
their associated businesses generate substan-
tial tax revenues (well into the tens of millions
annually, possibly hundreds of millions) for
the cities and counties that surround them. If,
on the other hand, the airport were sold to a
real estate developer who built homes on the
site, not only would the area lose aviation-re-
lated businesses and jobs, but the City would
then have to design and manufacture schools
to support that growth. And while it's true
that the tax base would grow, it's also true
that the cost base would grow even faster. In
land use planning terms, residential develop-
ment (as opposed to commercial, industrial,
and even farmland) results in a net drain on
local government budgets.
So what then happens some forty years
from now, long after my wife and I are gone,
when my sons decide to sell the airport?