December 10, 2018
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Sanford airport officials want to attract more corporate jets

The new Embraer Phenom 300E corporate jet is seen in an undated photo released Oct. 9, 2017. The airport in Sanford, Maine, hopes to attract more corporate jets.

Councilors and city staff will examine steps they can take to encourage owners of corporate jets to make Sanford Seacoast Regional Airport their base of operations.

More jets would mean more revenue for the airport.

One method councilors and city staff are exploring is to look at how they might market the airport and find a way to lessen the impact of excise fees on owners of jet aircraft and other airplane owners.

Jets are high value aircraft and could bring in excise tax in the five figure range — and if there was an incentive to “give” that back to owners, it might encourage more jet owners to make Sanford their base, some councilors say.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, as of Nov. 9 there were 90 aircraft based at Sanford Seacoast Regional Airport, 78 single-engine planes, seven multi-engine airplanes, three helicopters, one ultralight and one jet.

Right now, the city collects a modest $8,000 to $12,000 annually in excise fees, estimated airport Manager Allison Rogers. The owner of the sole jet based at Sanford lives in New Hampshire, and is not obliged to pay the excise tax fee, she said.

Councilor Lucas Lanigan of the council’s property subcommittee at a meeting on Tuesday wondered if the excise tax fee might be waived.

Rogers said she’s exploring that idea.

“All this real estate is just waiting,” she said of the airport. She said fuel sales and leases to new jet clients could bring in revenue.

City Manager Steve Buck said the city is obliged to collect the fees under state law — but that the tax could be “given” back.

Deputy Mayor Maura Herlihy said she’d favor having aircraft owners pay the excise, and adjust leasing fees, rather than return cash.

The group agreed to more fully explore the possibilities.

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