Branson Airport Report to City of Branson

Item 7 Branson Airport Status Report
Branson's business planners have long debated the arrival of Southwest Airlines in the backrooms. The effort  is now public as Southwest purchases Air Trans and as Jeff Bourke, Branson Airport's director addresses leadership at Branson City Hall.

Bourke touted the potential of Southwest Airlines and the impact of expansion on the Branson economy.

Branson Airport is unique in that it doesn't rely on federal funds. This is unusual as aviation is the most highly subsidized form of transportation in the United States sucking $9.8 billion dollars from taxpayers annually.

The Branson Airport has a high level of accountability as they receive funds on a performance basis. The city of Branson pays $8.24 for every passenger whose destination is the city of Branson; however, 40% of air traffic comes for locals. Local residents transport is not subsidized.

Branson's mayor Raeanne Presley has long fought against the airport and at the time the contract was signed she sat on a competing airport's board of directors. An effort to dishonor the contract was quickly thwarted by the community forcing Presley to honor the pay per performance agreement. Presley spent a considerable amount of local taxpayer funds to evade the obligation, but was unsuccessful.

Bourke gave a friendly warning to Branson's Mayor and Board of Alderman regarding the consequences of Branson failing to honor the obligation. While private funds continue to keep the airport fiscally above water, default due to Branson's actions will result in a major lawsuit which could cost the city millions. Bourke reminded the city that $160 million has been raised by private investors.

The report posted above boasts $75,000 in charitable donations  a 57% increase in seating over 2010, $35,000,000 in visitor spending and 973 jobs created  The airport estimates 124,703 enplanements  in 2011.

The pay-per-performance-contract demands $187,229 for eligible flights which occurred between January and June 2011.

Presley's large portfolio of pending litigation against the city of Branson and fiscal losses mean she lacks both the political and financial capital to legally fight the airport ensuring payments will likely occur without much fight.