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3 golden objects Minnesota Legislature

Office of the Legislative Auditor - Financial Audit Division

Report Summary

Special Review

Metropolitan Airports Commission

Reliever Airport Leasing and Hangar Use

We conducted a special review of the Metropolitan Airports Commission's (MAC) reliever airport hangar use and ground leasing practices. MAC owns and operates six reliever airports throughout the Twin Cities area. It leases airport land to individuals or businesses that build privately owned hangars for aircraft storage and commercial aviation purposes.

A hangar owner at the Anoka County-Blaine Airport, and other interested parties, raised concerns about usage and leasing of privately owned hangars on MAC reliever airport property. The individual alleged conflict of interest and violation of MAC policies regarding hangar leasing and misuse of hangars for personal living, non-aviation storage, and business operations. As a result, we performed an investigation to answer the following questions:

  • Did the Metropolitan Airports Commission have an adequate process for awarding and monitoring lease agreements and monitoring hangar usage at the reliever airports?
  • Were aircraft hangars at the reliever airports used in accordance with the MAC policies, rules and regulations, and lease agreements?
Key Conclusions

Overall, we did not find evidence of widespread problems with MAC reliever airport hangar leasing and use. The commission properly awarded ground space leases and, for the most part, tenants stored aircraft and aviation-related items in their hangars. However, we made some suggestions for improvements in MAC's practices for monitoring ground leases and hangar use.

Aircraft storage leases were properly offered to those on waiting lists. However, the commission did not execute one lease until after the hangar was constructed. Also, the subsequent transfer of the same lease was not done in a timely manner, creating the impression that those on the waiting list were not given proper priority. Since this incident, MAC has initiated a tracking system for monitoring unexecuted leases.

From our inspection of 54 hangars, we found that owners were mainly storing aircraft and aviation-related items in the hangars. The reliever airport staff adequately enforced compliance with MAC requirements when issues and concerns came to their attention. However, we noted the following concerns:

  • Five of 54 hangars had either exceeded or were close to the 25 percent limitation for storage of non-aviation items, such as cars and boats. We recommended that MAC implement routine hangar use inspections, or coordinate with its ongoing environmental inspections, to deter excessive storage of these items.
  • One MAC commissioner with a storage hangar at the Anoka County-Blaine airport, contracted with another tenant to provide repair services. This type of arrangement typically requires a commercial lease with MAC receiving a percentage of revenue.