By Michelle Charles
STILLWATER, Okla. — Stillwater Regional Airport is preparing for a future that includes updated facilities, more hangar space for private aircraft and commercial air service.
“We’re very fortunate to be in a community that’s vibrant and growing,” said airport director Gary Johnson.
He said airport staff and the Stillwater Regional Airport Trust Authority are facing a challenge to serve a growing community and a growing economy along with existing users.
Johnson said Stillwater ranks sixth in the state for number of flight operations.
The airport sees a variety of traffic generated by the local aviation community, industry and Oklahoma State University athletics and research.
Its runways have the length and strength to accommodate up to a Boeing 757.
The airport’s $3.4 million budget for this year includes more than $1.5 million in capital projects, including security camera system upgrades, security fencing to keep unauthorized animals and humans out, hangar expansion, new control tower window shades and voice switch, and replacement of the airport’s last below-ground fuel tank.
Johnson said he wants Stillwater’s airport to be on the cutting edge of services and his quest to land a commercial carrier to provide hub service from Stillwater continues.
He said the city, OSU and the Chamber of Commerce all believe offering commercial air service would have a strong effect on economic development.
“It’s a game changer,” he said.
A survey of chamber of commerce members showed residents liked the idea.
Dallas/Fort Worth, the closest hub, was used by a majority of respondents, followed by Houston and Denver.
The Stillwater Chamber of Commerce will be administering another travel survey soon.
The airport authority is gathering fresh data and determining the number of potential travelers from Stillwater’s catchment area, which includes 195,000 people living in Cushing, Stillwater, Ponca City, Perry and the area west of Perry to eastern Garfield County.
Johnson is looking at where people go, where they fly from and where guests at local hotels live.
Airlines make decisions based on market share and profit and loss, he said.
“You need data to prove there’s a market,” Johnson said.
“We just have to be patient and remember this isn’t a sprint; it’s a marathon.”
California Aviation Alliance: Airport News List E-mail
Sent by AviaEd@AIM.com – Lorena de Rodriguez on behalf of CAA subscribers. Add your comments to these stories realtime online at https://aviaed.wordpress.com/.