May 25 2022
Three simple words. But here's the thing: planning is tough. It requires a commitment of time, thought, discipline, and energy.
Here at the airport, we’re REQUIRED to do planning, but we have another name for it: The Master Plan. We’ll be talking about it in the coming months because it’s time to update it. So, this seems like a good time to make introductions.
The term “Master Plan” has an all-knowing, other worldly sound to it, but it’s really pretty simple. It boils down to three questions:
- What infrastructure improvements will the airport need in the future?
- When will the improvements be needed?
- How will the improvements be paid for?
Airport master plans are not wish lists. They're an assesment of future needs.
If it sounds like busy work, consider this: the federal government helps pay for airport infrastructure. A master plan is a requirement for getting federal money. The feds want to know that a planning process is in place, and that there really is a need for the projects it will be asked to help pay for.
Here’s an example of how a master plan works …
The site of our airport’s current airline terminal was identified in the 1967 master plan. That plan was updated in 1977. Of the update’s many observations, one stands out. It concluded that the maximum capacity of the terminal, being used at that time, was 880,000 total passengers a year. The update said when “that level of activity is attained, a new passenger terminal complex will be required.”
That number was reached and exceeded in 2005. Thanks to the master plan, a new terminal was already being designed and its finance plan was close to completion. Construction began in 2006. When the terminal opened in 2009, it was the end of a planning process that began 41 years before. And because a master plan was in place, the feds helped pay for it.
Our master plan was last updated between 2011 and 2013. The growth projections made in that update proved to be conservative. Our airline passenger growth, for example, has exceeded projections by nearly 15 percent. Put another way, we’re growing a lot faster than we thought we would. That means it’s time to update the master plan.
Updating the plan is a process. We’ve hired Crawford, Murphy & Tilly (CMT) to do the work. It’s an engineering firm that specializes in public infrastructure and planning.
CMT will put the entire airport under its microscope. Here’s a small sample of what it will look at ...
Determine the maximum capacity and life span of: airfield, airspace, airline terminal, general aviation terminal, hanger storage, aircraft parking, air cargo facilities, ramps, taxiway, and runways …
The list goes on and on and on. It can make one’s eyes glaze over because most of it isn’t particularly interesting, but it is important. If the individual components of the airport aren’t up to snuff, it can directly affect the local economy and the traveling public.
Having said all that, it’s important to point out that a master plan is not a “wish list” for new airline service or destinations, or new facilities.
Airlines will not add new service or destinations just because we wish it so. The population of the metropolitan area, per capita income, and customer demand are the main factors driving airline service decisions. As for new facilities, the master plan offers an appraisal of what facilities will be needed to accommodate forecasted airport growth.
Bottom line: you won’t find any wish lists in a master plan. Rather, it’s an honest assessment of what the airport will likely need as we grow into the future.
For those of you wanting to take a deep dive into the subject, here's a link to the 2013 master plan.
Please send questions and comments to us via email: [email protected]
We may contact you once we begin the process of getting input from the public and stakeholders.