The Marina airport’s newly released draft master plan calls for extending the runway, not for commercial aviation, but for attracting more private charter jet business to the facility.
At a special City Council meeting on Tuesday that started with a workshop and presentation at the airport, council members, airport officials and the public were introduced to the Draft Marina Municipal Airport Master Plan update provided by Coffman Associates. The $351,000 draft master plan update it has been in the works since October 2013.
The Federal Aviation Administration recommends long-term planning documents be updated every seven to 10 years to address local changes at an airport. Marina’s last airport master plan was finalized in 2008.
“It’s an opportunity to document where you’re at, where you want to go and what you need to plan for the future,” said John Smith of Tartaglia Engineering, the lead consultant on the master plan update.
The Airport Master Plan is the framework for future airport development which includes factors that affect aviation demand while also considering facility needs, capacity, runway extension, revenue development and encroachment among other things.
Marina Municipal Airport, formerly Fritzsche Army Airfield, has facilities that include runways, aircraft buildings, a control tower and hangars situated on 845.5 acres. It was conveyed to the city of Marina in 1995 after the closure of Fort Ord.
According to Smith, one of the most significant items in the master plan update is the runway extension which will lengthen runway 11-29 from 3,500 feet to 5,000 or 5,800 feet.
“Prior to council approval, the master plan has to go through FAA approval,” said Councilmember Nancy Amadeo.
Amadeo said whether the runway is extended 5,000 or 5,800 feet would be determined by the FAA after it takes a look at current and future aircraft uses. It may mean a multiphased approach starting at 5,000 feet or it may see an immediate need to fully extend the runway to 5,800 feet.
The current runway is about 75 feet wide. The 5,000-foot extension would also be 75 feet wide but the 5,800-foot extension would be widened to 100 feet.
Marina has no designs on becoming a commercial airline destination and it has no intention of taking business away from other airports, said Amadeo.
Smith said the lengthening of the runway is not to open the airport to commercial airline use but to further develop the private jet charter business already happening at the facility. “There’s a corporate jet firm already doing business there for over a year now,” he said.
Corporate jet aircraft are heavier, faster and go further afield than Cessnas, said Smith.
Opening up the airport to commercial aviation would be a “trend in the wrong direction,” Smith said. “There is a pilot shortage which results in commuter airlines pulling out of smaller airports,” Smith said.
Monterey Regional Airport also has corporate jet aircraft doing business at its facility along with commercial airliners.
“I don’t think it would be cutting into Monterey’s business,” said Amadeo. “We would be providing an alternative.”
Amadeo stressed the area has enough interest in private jet charters and “it would make sense for another airport to handle overflow.”
The FAA would need to give final approval to any approach Marina takes including requiring the city to provide a full environmental impact report which could cost over $1 million.
Amadeo says the bottom line is Marina needs more business at the airport to make it a viable, revenue-generating part of the community.
Jeff Crechriou, Marina Airport Services coordinator, did not return phone calls for comment.
The document will next go through an initial California Environmental Quality Act study and FAA initial review.
James Herrera can be reached at 831-726-4344.