Airport extends Customs lease agreement

The Great Falls Airport Authority board unanimously approved a lease amendment with Holman Aviation to provide U.S. Customs operations at the airport.

In order to be classified as an international airport and serve flights coming into the U.S. from other countries, an airport must provide free space for the U.S. Customs officers to process those flights, according to the airport.

Holman Aviation has filled that requirement for the airport since 2003 and charges the airport for the ground, the building they constructed and cleaning and maintenance fees.

Great Falls airport receives grant for new Dallas-Fort Worth flights

Holman also provides services to the international flights including fuel, food, meeting space and more, according to the airport.

The Great Falls International Airport averages about two international flights daily and most are light aircraft that are not charged a landing fee by the airport. They do pay for fuel when needed.

FedEx is the other major user of the facility, which processes an international FedEx cargo flight every Saturday, according to the airport.

United Airlines adding flights, capacity at Great Falls airport [2021]

Airport officials said they likely lose money on the U.S. Customs facility, but if they discontinue the service, it would be difficult and costly to get it back.

John Faulkner, airport director, said that the airport could charge for the Customs services, but then would lose its designation as an international airport and likely wouldn’t be able to handle commercial flights.

There are also commercial and aviation interest in the airport because of the U.S. Customs facility, according to the airport.

Under the new lease agreement, the airport’s monthly rent will increase from $3,523.38 to $3,973.97. The rate per square foot remains $12 but the custodial/maintenance/utility rate is increasing from $5.75 to $8.02 per square foot.

The rental rate hadn’t changed since 2008, according to the airport.

The lease agreement will be extended through Dec. 31, 2027 from it’s previous expiration on Dec. 31, 2022.

The increased annual cost to the airport is estimated at $5,407.08 and the cost for one year is $55,000.