Shuttle services pay fees to airport

Tom Zender, driver with Double Tree Hotel, unloads baggage while dropping off a flight crew at the Grand Junction Regional Airport Friday, Dec. 29, 2017.

Grand Junction Regional Airport officials are conducting a three-month study of charges for ground-based transportation, which was prompted by complaints from hotels when their rates jumped significantly with the airport's new budget.

The study leaves hotels' rates untouched for the moment at 20 cents per room per month.

There is no charge to residents picking up and dropping off family and friends at the airport. The charges apply only to those who offer a paid service.

In adopting its 2018 budget, the airport changed the hotel rate to a $2.50 trip fee, which matched the rates for limousines, taxis, other shuttles and services such as Uber.

Hotel managers said the change threatened them in some cases with a 2,000 percent increase in their current rates.

That was bad enough, but many hotels had already completed their 2018 budgets and couldn't shoehorn the increases into those plans because they shuttle guests to and from the airport without charge and had no way to pass along the new costs.

At the same time, the hotels recognize that the airport faces increasing costs, Darshann Ruckman, general manager of the Grand Junction Clarion Inn, told the Airport Authority.

In the case of the DoubleTree Hotel, the charge rose from $57 a month to $1,500, General Manager Doug Russo told the authority.

"We're all team players," Ruckman said. "We just want to be part of this, and I don't think most of the teams got invited to the game."

Revenue from the ground transportation fee is used to maintain the roads in and around the airport.

Once airport officials have a better sense of how ground transportation services use the airport, the authority will consider how best to charge them.

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