The Glendale Municipal Airport, one of the larger players in the city’s transportation economy — especially during its large-scale sporting events — is getting an upgrade that could increase its profit potential.
And because it’s an air-transit project, the improvements are costing relatively little for the municipality.
The work, which has been under way this spring, includes reconstructing part of the asphalt apron, reconfiguring and replacing lighting. In the future, the city wants to add apron space and is eyeing addition of a second runway to the single-runway facility, according to Airport Administrator Walt Fix.
This year’s project, which is costing nearly $3.8 million, is being paid almost entirely with federal taxpayer dollars. The Arizona Department of Transportation and Glendale are each footing about 4.5 percent of the cost.
The end result of this year’s work, expected to wrap up by June 15, will be a new center apron area asphalt surface, better lighting and a more efficient use of space, allowing the airport to add more tie-down spots for aircraft, Fix said.
“We gained an additional 14 tie-downs because we reconfigured the layout. This was due in part to the removal of existing middle apron lights that will be replaced by higher light poles with lights on the apron edge, not in the middle of the apron. The additional tie-downs and more capacity for corporate jets during major events is an economic benefit,” he said.
The reconstruction was necessary because the apron surface had used up its life of periodic crack-sealing and slurry-sealing.
Opened in 1986, the Glendale facility is a general-aviation reliever field, providing space for smaller craft that Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix and other Valley facilities are too busy to handle. Glendale Municipal handles close to 200 takeoffs and landings a day, Fix said. Deer Valley Airport in north Phoenix has the highest number of takeoffs and landings of any general aviation facility in the country, Fix said.
Most of the craft headed into and out of the Valley’s smaller airports, including Glendale, are small private planes or charters. And when they arrive, they bring revenue.
While most of the hangars at Glendale Municipal are privately owned, Fix said income can be derived from leasing, including both hangars and tie-down space, a fuel-flowage fee, and terminal office leases by entities such as businesses and flight schools.
“In 2013, our total revenue was in $450,000 and leased revenue was in the $250,000 range. Those are primarily hangars.”
The economic benefits extend well beyond the runways.
The Arizona Department of Transportation estimates the airport’s impact in the tens of millions of dollars. That includes hotel stays, retail activity and tourism. While overall numbers have declined in the past seven years, in part due to the recession, Fix said they have been aided in recent years by a rise in corporate traffic flying in for major events, mainly professional and college athletics. This year’s NFL Super Bowl, for example, produced a significant jump in corporate and private aircraft activity.
The airport would eventually like to grow.
While current airport activity adds up to around 73,000 landings and takeoffs a year, Fix said a long-range master plan for the airport mentions 234,000 annual landings and takeoffs.
Options include acquiring land in a runway protection zone north of Glendale, he said.