The Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport (BTR) Commission appointed Jim Ellis as the new Commission Chairman at its January, 2010 monthly meeting. Jim Ellis has been a partner in the law firm Taylor, Porter, Brooks & Phillips, L.L.P. since 1978. He has been an integral part of the Baton Rouge Area Chamber of Commerce since 2005; and he currently serves as a board member and member of the Executive Committee. In 2008 Ellis was the Chairman of the Board of Directors.
Mr. Ellis stated that forming a competition and development task force that would work to explore options for securing low-cost carrier service for Baton Rouge is one of his top priorities. The task force could include leaders from government, business and major institutions. Low-cost airline service would provide lower fares and additional capacity to stimulate BTR passenger traffic and result in the re-capturing of a significant share of the passenger leakage to New Orleans.
Revenue guarantee programs, in particular, are becoming more prevalent as an option for securing low-cost carrier service at mid-size and smaller airports. A revenue guarantee agreement often includes a commitment to reimburse the contracted airline for revenue shortfalls determined by comparing the monthly aggregate gross passenger revenue to aggregate block hour guarantee amounts that typically cover the carrier’s costs. The agreement may require that any revenue shortfalls be covered up to an agreed upon cap for a set period of time. No reimbursement would be required when the airline’s gross passenger revenues were enough to cover the block hour guarantee amounts. Revenue guarantees are designed to assist the carrier during the first few years of service while it builds a passenger base of support. Airlines often lose money during the first 1-2 years in a new market.
Ellis’s vision for the airport is for it to become a greater engine for economic development in our region, and to expand awareness by the business and governmental leadership in the region of the airport’s central role in economic expansion. "I would like to see growth and better facilities for general aviation as well as the addition of a low-cost carrier for the airport. I believe that with good leadership, the airport will have major opportunities to drive significant economic development in the long term. We may have to change our way of viewing the airport—it is more than a place to just catch a plane. The airport should be one of the key creators of economic activity in our region.”