Fort Smith Regional Airport
FORT SMITH REGIONAL AIRPORT 17
FortSmith Regional Airport
Thisreport explores the social, economic, and political contribution of to the wellbeing of local communities inArkansas. The report begins by offering a short history of theairport, which documents the date of the airport’s establishment,as well as the purpose of the establishment. The body of the reportidentifies landside and airside facilities in the airport, as well assecurity and compliance with FAA guidelines. The airport’sfinances, budget, economic and social impacts are also identified.The conclusion is that despite the economic value of the airport,more needs to be done in the area of social responsibility.
FortSmith Regional Airport
The aviation industry plays a key role in economic growth and development.
Airports promote economic growth through job creation, income generation, and tourism promotion.
Thesisstatement: As much as airports have economic benefits, this does notnecessarily mean that airports help to improve the lives of localcommunities.
Fort Smith Regional Airport was built in 1939, the primary driving force being the 1930s economic depression.
The airport was built in order to promote trade and commerce in the region.
It also has a military significance within the region.
Vision statement: To become the airport of choice supported by dedicated people with great facilities and service.
Passengers who have been screened and cleared enjoy various services including WiFi, onsite car rental services, and affordable hotel accommodation.
People visiting the airport have access to ample parking lots, fuel stations, and ambient passenger terminals.
Fort Smith Regional Airport complies with the standards issued by the Federal Airports Administration, although it was recently involved in a case relating to land ownership.
The airport has enacted very clear security measures that centre on ensuring that all passengers have undergone a detailed criminal check.
Security personnel at the airport are thoroughly trained.
The airport complies with the Transportation Security Administration rules regarding the items that are allowed into the airport and aircraft.
The airport’s current budget has a slight deficit of $255,000, but there is a reserve fund of close to $2 million.
Major sources of revenue for the airport include rented space and buildings, parking fees, and fuel sales.
Key expenditure items include contractual services, personal services, and depreciation together with amortization.
The airport receives additional finances from the government, through grants.
Social,economic, and political importance:
Fort Smith Regional Airport has helped to create jobs for local communities.
Businesspeople are able to transport their merchandize safely, conveniently, and efficiently.
The airport contributes towards government revenue through taxes.
It also offers recreational services to local communities, besides promoting the local culture.
Politically, the airport accommodates a military unit, thus helping to promote regional safety and security.
FortSmith Regional Airport plays a big role in promoting social,political, and economic development in Arkansas and neighboringregions. However, there is no documented record of the airportengaging in corporate social responsibility, particularly in terms ofcommunity welfare improvement. For this reason, it is suggested thatthe airport should be more active in activities such as public healthinitiatives, public education, and other community improvementactivities.
FortSmith Regional Airport
Theaviation industry has become one of the major contributors toeconomic growth and development of countries today. Airports play aninvaluable role in fostering economic growth, particularly in lightof the numerous employment opportunities that exist in the aviationsector. Besides creating employment, most airports usually serve ascommercial centers and business parks. This clearly indicates thatairports are no longer limited to the role of transportation theyare emerging as invaluable economic generators in the contemporaryworld (Graham, 2012). Equally important is the fact that as a resultof the economic benefits derived from air transport, communities areable to enjoy sustainable development and a better quality of life.The most well-known social impact of air transport is tourismpromotion, which facilitates sustainable development through povertyreduction and environment conservation (Air Transport Action Group,2012). This statement insinuates that airports play a pivotal role inimproving people’s lives, which may not always be the case. Theextent to which airports help in improving lives is assessed usingthe case study of , a domestic commercialairport in Arkansas.
The is said to have been built in 1939(Jones, 2013), although the idea was conceived three years earlier.According to the Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture(2017), the establishment of the airport has something to do with theGreat Depression of the 1930s. Although there seems to be noinformation explaining the connection between the airport’sconstruction and the Depression, it is claimed that the airport’sconstruction was deemed valuable in that it would allow greatercontrol of commercial activities within the region (Dallas, Atlanta,and Georgia). Aside from commercial purposes, the airport was alsoused to facilitate military activities. The Encyclopedia of ArkansasHistory & Culture (2017) documents that since the 1950s FortSmith Regional Airport has provided base support to the 188thTactical Fighter Group.
Overtime, the airport has been utilized for a range of activities it hasserved as a base for training military personnel. More importantly,the airport has undergone a series of expansions and development eversince it was created. For instance, it is recorded that in 1999, theairport’s administration executed the vision of providing passengerservices by creating a passenger terminal, which was opened in 2002.As a result of these developments, Fort Smith Airport plays a crucialrole in economic development in Arkansas City (Fort Smith RegionalAirport, 2017). The airport is driven by the vision of becoming “theairport of choice supported by dedicated people with great facilitiesand service” (, 2017). In accordancewith this vision, the airport pursues a mission of moving towardsself-sustenance as it surpasses the standards that define qualityservice to meet passengers’ transportation needs as well aspartners’ needs for economic development.
Beforeproceeding to describe ’s airside, itmight be important explain what the term ‘airside’ means.According to Vrontis and Rossi (2016), airside simply refers to thearea in an airport that is “reserved for aircraft [and entry intowhich] people, baggage, and cargo must be screened" (p.5). Thisdefinition suggests that the airside is a restricted location withinan airport that can only be accessed by airport personnel togetherwith passengers who have already been screened. The definition alsoinsinuates that airside includes facilities such as lounges togetherwith duty-free shops.
Goingby the above definition, has a richairside that comprises free WiFi, several car rental agencies, and anumber of hotels. Concerning transportation, it is reported that theairport provides various onsite car rental services that includeHertz, Budgte, Aviz, and Enterprise. Passengers who do not wish tohire such services in order to travel into and out of the airport arefree to use metered taxis, which can readily be found within theairport`s ground transportation zone (“Guide to Sleeping inAirports”, 2017).
Theairport also offers accommodation services to its passengers, butpassengers are free to choose whether they want to use these servicesor to seek accommodation outside the airport premises. For the latterof the category of passengers, the airport`s administrationrecommends several affordable hotels nearby. These include QualityInn, Holiday Inn Express Fort Smith Executive Park, and HomewoodSuites by Hilton. All the three hotels are a 5-minute drive away fromthe airport, and the airport provides free shuttle services topassengers who choose to sleep in these hotels (“Guide to Sleepingin Airports”, 2017). When it comes to eating, the Fort SmithRegional Airport provides only one dining option to passengers: Art’sBBQ and Burgers. This eatery is located within the airport andprovides food to screened passengers. There is also a vending machinefor soft drinks within the airport (“Guide to Sleeping inAirports”, 2017).
Landsideis the opposite of airside, and it is a general term used inreference to all uncontrolled areas within an airport that are freelyaccessible to the public. To be more precise, landside refers to allzones within an airport that people can move in and out of withouthaving to pass through security checks. As Vrontis and Rossi (2016)put it, landside facilities provide members of the public with accessto an airport’s services, including embarking as well asdisembarking passengers together with their goods from the plane.Some of the areas that fall within this definition are the check-indesks as well as the ticketing area. With specific reference to FortSmith Regional Airport, key landside facilities comprise airportbuildings, fuel farms, vehicle parking areas, passenger terminalbuildings, and fencing. A valuable landside facility in the airportis the Air Carrier Terminal Building, a huge building that offersspacious and comfortable accommodation to passengers. In the buildingis a ticketing counter. Members of the public who wish to visit theairport for different reasons, such as booking tickets or receivingfriends and relatives can also park their vehicles at the TerminalAccess Area. Parking services in these facilities are free for peoplewho wish to drop off their relatives or friends to the airport. Atthe same time, it is reported that the has more than 600 parking spaces that are open to the public, andthese spaces are found right in front of the passenger terminal. Theairport administration periodically adds more spaces to response tothe needs of the community. The airport also provides a publicfacility for car wash services.
Likeevery other airport in the U.S., the isgoverned by the Federal Airports Administration, FAA, which lays thestandards and guidelines that must be observed in terms of safety.Pursuant to this, the airport complies with the standards set by theFAA, including the requirement to maintain obstacle-free areas.Nonetheless, recent reports indicate that the airport could soonenter into problems with the authorities due to non-compliance. Theproblem is that the land upon which the 188thWing stands does not reflect a fair market value. In addition, theairport is said to have altered the purpose of the land from mannedfighting purposes to an intelligence wing. In response to these, theFAA is reported to have issued a deadline by which the airport mustobtain a fresh lease between itself and the Air National Guard. Thedeadline was set in October last year, and the report, which wasfiled close to one year ago, suggests that it has not been easy tocomply with this directive because the Air National Guard is actingquite slowly (Talk Business & Politics Staff, 2016).
Inthe wake of the threat of terrorism, the is very keen on upholding security at all times. According to theairport’s website, security checks at the airport are conducted viaa clear process that is facilitated by authorized persons. The FortSmith Regional Airport abides by the government regulation requiringall security screening personnel to be properly trained. As such, theairport offers security training to interested and qualifiedpersonnel, and this training is only offered where prior appointmenthas been made. Security screening personnel are trained within theairport`s administration offices, and every person is attending thetraining is required to bring identification documents that verifytheir authenticity to take part in the training (Fort Smith RegionalAirport, 2017).
Moresignificantly, persons wishing to be cleared must file a number ofapplications, one of them being to show that they do not have acriminal record. This kind of check is done via a fingerprintapplication form. It is interesting to learn that the Fort SmithRegional Airport does not compel persons to undergo fingerprintchecking it is the duty of the individual to book a meeting with theairport so that he or she may have his/her fingerprinting conducted(, 2017). Besides the fingerprintapplication form, individuals are required to present two nationalidentification documents, and one of them has to have a photoattached.
Nonetheless,the airport is obliged to furnish the Transportation SecurityAdministration with all data provided by applicants in order tofacilitate a process known as Security Threat Assessment. TheTransportation Administration then uses the information provided bythe applicant in order to examine his or her criminal history. Thisprocess usually takes between three and seven days, after which theresults are released to the airport’s administration team, which inturn notifies applicants regarding whether or not their applicationsare successful.
Toenhance passenger security as well as security within and around theairport, the abides by the rules set outby the Transportation Security Administration, particularly withrespect to prohibited items. The screening process includes thoroughchecks on the items carried by passengers. Precisely, the prohibiteditems include explosives, firearms, sharp objects, and flammables. Itis important to note that even though certain goods are generally,security personnel may still conduct additional screening at theairport`s checkpoint if such items trigger an alarm when they arebeing screened. Security personnel also tend to be extra keen onitems that seem as if they have been interfered with. Specific itemsthat are not allowed at the includeaerosols, cigarettes, dry batteries, gasoline, lighters, liquidbleaches, and many other hazardous items (Transportation SecurityAdministration, 2017).
FortSmith Regional Airport’s budget for the year 2017 is that thecompany hopes to make revenues worth $2.783 million, while itsprojected expenses amount to $3.039 million. This clearly shows thatairport has a budget deficit of more than $255,000. Apart from this,the airport is planning to spend an estimated $3.166 million incapital projects. Even though it is clear that there is a budgetdeficit, outgoing director John Parker is quoted as saying that theactual expenses may be lower than the projected amount, as thisfigure only captures the worst circumstances that could possiblyoccur in terms of expenditure (Mitchell, 2016).
Morecommendable is the report that the hasdocumented sound policies that will be implemented in the event thatexpenses exceed revenues. According to Mitchell (2016), the airporthas maintains a constant reserve that is set aside to offset anydeficits in case they occur. Currently, the airport has a reserve of$1.958 million and going by the budget estimates of 2017 it isprojected that the reserve balance at the end of the 2017 fiscal yearwill be $1.775 million. The implication is that Fort Smith RegionalAirport has already foreseen itself withdrawing some $183,000 fromthe reserve fund to offset certain expenses this year.
Toobtain a clear understanding of why `sexpenses are projected to be higher than the airport`s revenues, itis deemed worthwhile to conduct a brief analysis of the airport`sfinancial statements. Taking the example of the year 2014 incomestatement, it emerges that the airport`s major source of revenue isrented buildings together with similar investments (the companyearned $1.634 million from these in 2014). Other sources of incomefor the airport include parking fees paid by vehicle owners, a saleof fuel, and military rental facilities. On the other hand, theairport spends its revenues majorly on depreciation together withamortization, contractual services, commodities and personalservices. Thankfully, the airport receives substantial amounts ofmoney in the form of grants from local, state, and federalgovernments. As the income statement for the year 2014 indicates,these grants are substantial enough to boost the airport`s netposition (BKD LLP CPAs & Advisors, 2015).
Anotherimportant point about the is that itobtains revenue from two broad classes of items. The first categoryis known as operating revenue and comprises income from regularoperations like space together with office rentals, landing fees,parking lot fees, and flowage fees. The second category- nonoperatingrevenue- is derived from non-regular items such as gas royalties andinterest income (BKD LLP CPAs & Advisors, 2015).
Social,economic, and political importance
FortSmith Regional Airport is described as one of the pillars on whichthe Arkansas transportation system, as well as commerce, stands.Thanks to the airport, residents together with businesspeople andorganizations in the region have been able to pursue their economicgoals because the airport facilitates convenient, safe, and efficienttransportation of merchandise from one area to another (BKD LLP CPAs& Advisors, 2015). Apart from this, the airport has been a majorcontributor to employment creation in the region, and this is basedon the report that the company hires a significant number of workersto facilitate the construction of several facilities (BKD LLP CPAs &Advisors, 2015). Other than employment, also contributes towards regional economic development through taxes.It is reported that aviation activities within the airport contributemore than $3 million in the form of local as well as state taxes.Equally important is the fact that the airport supports a number ofbusinesses, including shops, hotels, and other airside as well aslandside facilities. All these generate an extra economic effect onlocal communities.
Amajor social impact of the is recreation.The airport is situated in a very strategic location that enablesvisitors to tour different scenic sites that have a lot of culturalrelevance to the people of Arkansas. For example, it is said that theFort Smith National Historical Site provides a perfect beginningpoint for first-time visitors to familiarize themselves with thecity. Visitors get to understand the significance of the city inreference to the Second World War. Besides Fort Smith NationalHistorical Site, there are numerous other scenic attractions that arehighly significant to the people of Arkansas. These include theHangman’s House, Miss Laura Visitor Center, and the Darby House("Fort Smith: Recreation," 2016).
Worthnoting is the fact that is home to theFort Smith Air Museum, and this is culturally significant to thepeople of Arkansas because it means that foreigners who land at theairport will take time to tour the Museum and learn several thingsabout the culture of the local community. Important artifacts thatare available in the Museum include historical facts and images aboutagricultural, commercial aviation, and military activities of theU.S. Another significant site found near the Fort Smith RegionalAirport is the U.S National Cemetery, which provides a silentcommentary about Fort Smith`s history. The Cemetery holds the remainsof Union as well as confederate soldiers (“Fort Smith: Recreation”,2016). In this light, the Airport is regarded as being culturallysignificant as it enables visitors to obtain a historical account ofkey events in the history of the U.S.
Turningto the political role of the airport, it might be said that the factthat the airport accommodates the Air National Guard of the U.S.military facilitates effective governance. As mentioned earlier, the does not only serve as a commercial hubin the region it also provides a base for military operations. Inview of this, one might argue that the U.S. federal government,together with the local government of Arkansas City views the airportas a crucial infrastructure in the sense that it provides space formilitary units to organize themselves and store valuable items. Moreprecisely, the airport may be said to be politically significantbecause it assists the government to execute its mandate of providingsafety and security to the people of Arkansas.
FortSmith Regional Airport is one of the developments that have valuableeconomic and social benefits to the people of Arkansas in particular,and the U.S. in general. This statement is based on the report thatthrough the airport, a substantial number of jobs have been createdand the living standards of local communities enhanced greatly. Ontop of this, the airport has a vital social role in the community inthe sense that it helps in promoting the various scenic sites andculturally significant features within the neighborhood. From apolitical point of view, the airport is also deemed useful because itsupports military operations in the region, and this helps inmaintaining safety and security within the region.
Basedon the above contributions, it might be rightly concluded that the has helped to improve lives in the localcommunity. Nonetheless, it is important to take into considerationthe concept of social responsibility, which is widely used to assessthe contribution of commercial entities to local communities. It isquite surprising to note that throughout the discussion providedabove, the issue of social responsibility has not featured anywhere.For this reason, alone, the position taken in this report is thatdespite its contribution to economic development within Arkansas Cityand neighboring regions, has a long wayto go in helping to improve the lives of local communities.
Specificrecommendations made for the include thefollowing:
The airport’s administration team should seek to create more jobs for local people by identifying additional landside facilities that need to be built, and making sure that a large portion of the people hired to construct these facilities are drawn from the surrounding communities.
The airport should identify and liaise with relevant stakeholders within the community to organize and provide education on pertinent matters such as poverty alleviation, healthy living, environmental preservation, and other issues that are deemed vital for survival.
The administration team should identify and implement a range of community engagement initiatives from time to time. All these are effective ways of demonstrating social responsibility (Pollalis, Georgoulias, Ramos & Schodek, 2013).
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