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Jet fuel sales suddenly take off at DeKalb Taylor Municipal Airport

7 sales Wednesday inject optimism into low-price experiment

DeKALB – Two days after the City Council heard an optimistic report on the experiment of lowering the cost of jet fuel at DeKalb Taylor Municipal Airport, seven jets bought fuel there Wednesday, manager Tom Cleveland said Thursday.

On May 1, the airport lowered the cost of jet fuel to $2.59 a gallon, which Holdeman said is the lowest price for the region. He added that the average cost of fuel in the region is about $4.13 a gallon, and some airports charge as much as $7 a gallon.

Airport manager Tom Cleveland said more than 2,000 gallons of fuel were sold Wednesday, including a 569-gallon fill-up for a single jet, which generated more than $1,400 in revenue.

“This is fun,” said Cleveland, who’s been with the airport 17 years. “What it does is bring new people into the airport, into the community, and you get to talk to these CEOs and executives and tell them we’re in a great place to be, right outside Chicago.

“We’re doing all our marketing at the same time.”

He said several companies that have never visited the DeKalb airport have filled up since the price was lowered.

“That’s exactly what we want, and the word is starting to get out,” he said.

Through the month of May, the airport sold 3,319 gallons of jet fuel. The airport already has sold more than 3,000 gallons this month.

“This is looking like it’s going to be a good month,” Cleveland said.

A few days like Wednesday each month would be a big boost for the airport, DeKalb Public Works Director Tim Holdeman said.

“Five or six occurrences like this will get us into a very good position,” Holdeman said.

With the adjusted price of fuel, however, the airport would have to sell roughly 11,000 gallons a month to break even.

Holdeman has said that if losses from the project hit $20,000, the plug will be pulled.

“The fruit that will be borne by [lowering the price] was slower than what we anticipated, but we still are confident that it’s going to happen,” Holdeman said. “I believe it’s prudent to continue the strategy.”

Cleveland told the council Monday night that last week, a corporate jet traveling to an NBA Finals game came in from Utah after hearing about the fuel costs and got 600 gallons’ worth of fuel. Cleveland then got a call about midnight that the jet was coming back and got another 500 gallons on the way back to Utah.

Because of that trip, the airport sold a total of 1,300 gallons of fuel that day, according to Cleveland.

“It’s going to take a few months, but if you give us a chance, we’ll report back next month,” Cleveland said. “Right now, it looks like it’s moving forward pretty good.”

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