December 14, 2011 By Matt Scallan
The Port of South Louisiana on Tuesday approved a master plan for the St. John Airport that includes a 1,100-foot extension of its 4,000-foot runway, opening the door to more traffic from small jets. The plan will cost an estimated $2.4 million for the runway and taxiway improvements for the 21-year-old airport, with the money coming from the state, Federal Aviation Administration and the port, which has put off plans to build new storm-resistant headquarters in Reserve.
The plan also calls for future apron and terminal expansion, additional airport hangars, a fueling station for Jet A fuel, as well as additional apron space to accommodate small aircraft.
The long-range plan includes developing cargo facilities on the east side of the airport, which officially opened in 1990.
One technical hurdle that must be addressed is that the FAA wants either the parish government, which owns the airport, or the port, which now runs it, to take full responsibility for the facility.
“The lease agreement we have right now isn’t good enough,” said Joel Chaisson, the port’s executive director. The port began managing the airport for the parish in 2009.
The runway expansion plan has been a long-sought goal of airport officials, but extending the runway to the north would have been costly because of wetland issues. The latest plan calls for extending the runway in both directions, including a 746-foot northern extension that stays inside the airport’s ring levee and avoids wetlands. The plan calls for extending the runway 405 feet to the south.
“We think there is a demand for additional capacity for general aviation in this area,” said Port Commissioner Paul “Joey” Murray III, a pilot who is a regular user of the airport. General aviation refers to aircraft that aren’t commercial carriers.
Source: THE TIMES-PICAYUNE