The Pratt Regional Airport is seeking a grant to replace its underground aviation fuel system.

The Pratt Airport Board Authority is hoping for a Christmas present in time for Thanksgiving.

The airport has applied for a Kansas Department of Transportation grant to replace the underground fuel storage tanks with an above ground system on skids.

Airport Manager Reid Bell told the Board of Directors at their monthly meeting on Nov. 9 that the decision on who gets grants should be made by Thanksgiving.

"We're waiting to see if we make the cut this year," Bell said.

The estimated cost of the new fuel system is $594,000. The grant would cover most of the cost but still leaving $82,000 for the airport share of the expense, Bell said.

The current tanks are underground and are 70 years old. They are still in compliance but they won't last forever so Bell wants to get them replaced before they become an issue.

Most fuel tanks at airports are above ground now and are on skids so they can be moved when necessary. Bell wants the fuel system on skids because in the far future, the terminal area will undergo a renovation and he wants to move the system across the runway from its present location to the opposite side of the taxiway.

The grant money comes through the Federal Aviation Administration and goes through the KDOT Aviation division.

Getting the grant money is very important to the airport because the downturn in the oil and gas industry has resulted in a drop in the number of businesses at the airport and the revenue from those businesses.

"We're having a problem with cash flow right now. We're having trouble balancing the budget. We're still working on that," Bell said.

Although the cash flow is an issue, Bell said the financial statement for the airport was still good.

There are no new leases on the horizon but the city is working on a solar energy business that would locate at the airport. But that venture has a long way to go, including the price per acre and a lot has to be worked out before that happens, said Pratt City Manager Roy Eckert.

A transaction that is under consideration is BTI wants to purchase the ground they are now leasing at the airport. However, the federal government still has authority over selling land at the airport and they have to approve the sale and it's a hassle to do that. The FAA prefers airports don't sell ground because that is selling off the airport's revenue generating ability, Bell said.

There are 25 acres involved at BTI and Bell said the sale doesn't look like its going to happen.

The airport continues to look for other businesses an hopes to find more sources of revenue from land leases.