CARLYSS — Southland Executive Airport is planning for the future. On Thursday, May 7, representatives from Airport Development Group (ADG) presented the board with an action plan with improvement options for the next 20 years.
Airport Engineer Chuck Stutes told the board that it has been 20 years since the airport last had an airport layout plan or ALP. He said ADG was highly recommended by the state’s Department of Transportation and Development. The group has done 10 ALPs throughout Louisiana for airports similar in size to Southland.
Steve Marshall, ADG Planning Project Manager, gave a brief review of the working plan.
“The plan is a key to the door for future money from the Federal Aviation Administration,” he said. “We have to make the FAA happy because their money comes with strings attached.”
Marshall said ADG projects that Southland will increase the number of aircraft based at their field from the current 30 to 45 by 2035.
“The opportunity we saw here is for helicopters,” he said. Another area expected to increase is annual take-offs and landings. Marshall said 20,800 are projected for 2016 and that number goes up to 30,000 by 2035. “And that’s a conservative number,” he said.
ADG offers three alternative plans to keep the airport FAA compliant over the next two decades. Plan options include land acquisition, runway extension, runway widening and additional T-Hangars. The projects would be phased over two, five ,10, 15 and 20 years and done to specifications outlined by the FAA to ensure possible funding from the FAA and DOTD.
Marshall noted that the parallel taxi runway at Southland is a bonus and unusual for municipal airports. Rick Bryant, with ADG’s marketing and promotion department, advised the board that they should capitalize on the airport’s “wonderful position close to the Texas marketplace” by looking regionally to attract more tenants to lease T-Hangars.
“There are never enough T-Hangars in the world,” he said. “You’re in an enviable position nationwide because you have a strong state aviation department that invests in airports.”
Bryant also recommended marketing to helicopter, jet and prop aircraft traffic.
“Diversity is what the FAA is looking for,” he said.
Other recommendations include seeking a fuel contract with the military and educating the public on the impact the airport has on the local economy.
“We need to sell the public, because the public doesn’t understand that the economic impact is not just the physical investment,” said Bryant.
Southland has an estimated $13-$15 million economic impact on the area annually.
“Good planning and taking the time to do this plan correctly and spitballing all ideas – wild, crazy, cost a little, cost a lot – gets you to where you can have a 737 land out there and conduct business and have fun doing it,” said Bryant.
Marshall said that the airport layout plan will continue to evolve over future meetings with ADG and, at a later date, the board will nail down which alternatives they wish to pursue.