KINGSFORD — In the last six months, passengers flying out of Ford Airport have seen a number of changes, from the installation of new body scanners to direct flights everyday to and from Detroit.
Now, airport manager Tim Howen has his sights set on improving the airport’s runways.
“The repave job needs to be done just to maintain the surface that we have,” said Howen. “We have what’s called a porous friction course on top of our runway that drains the water off and keeps it safe for planes landing so they don’t hydroplane. That’s starting to deteriorate.”
Ford Airport has two runways. Their plan is to repave the main one- all 6,500 feet of it.
It hasn’t been done since 1999. Re-pavement jobs typically last 20 years.
Howen wants to begin the repaving process in August, but that’s all up to the federal government.
“It will take three months just to get our ducks in row before we know when it’s going to start, when it can start and when we’ll receive the funds,” he said.
Howen did not say what the project would exactly cause. He did say that it would be a multi-million dollar project.
If everything goes according to plan, both runways would be done by next summer. And that’s key for an airport that’s seen a resurgence in use especially in the last ten years.
“If we maintain 10,000 boardings or more out of here (a year), we receive $1 million. If we’re under that, we only receive $150,000,” said Howen. “It’s critical for us to keep the jet flying in here, keep the passenger loads up just to maintain that million-dollar entitlement fund,” he added.
Howen says the runways are currently safe for planes to fly in and out of and that maintaining the airport is not an inexpensive venture for the government.
“A lot people think the money that we get, the entitlement funding, goes back to the airport into our fund; it doesn’t,” said Howen. “The feds tell us where we need to spend it, what needs to be maintained, so it’s money that they’re protecting their investment.”
Funds for the first repave job are just one of couple of things the airport is waiting on. President Trump’s budget proposal would cut the Essential Air Service funding for all airports.
That would eliminate a $4 million subsidy for the airport that’s used to get passengers to and from bigger airport hubs.