HomeBusinessAirport already showing increases in traffic, business with potential for more on...

Airport already showing increases in traffic, business with potential for more on horizon

Steve Smith said he’s enjoying the work and the return of alliances with other local organizations that went away after the Transportation Security Administration vacated McKellar-Sipes Regional Airport about 15 years ago.

“Just the announcement of their return earlier in the year gave us an improvement in traffic coming through,” said Smith, the director of the airport, to the Madison County Commission last week. “And we were already seeing an uptick in traffic over a year ago, the week after the announcement of Blue Oval City coming to West Tennessee.”

Smith said travelers will see definite benefits from both the TSA’s presence in the airport because that will ease travel as they can go ahead and check their luggage in for their flights, and new airline Southern Airways, has partnerships with most major airlines – and one with Delta Airlines that will be added soon – that will make booking a trip to anywhere in the world much simpler than it was with past airlines.

Smith did discuss needed renovations, including one that is set to happen next year, a $13.5 million resurfacing of one of their runways that measures 6,000 feet long.

“This runway is 38 years old, and runways like this typically have a life of 20-25 years,” Smith said. “Our maintenance department has done a great job, but they’ve stretched it as far as it can go.”

Smith said there are $6 million of federal money committed to the project, and the state has committed between $7 and $8 million, and he said he’ll probably come before the Commission and Jackson City Council sometime next year asking for somewhere between $350,000 and $400,000 from each.

The other big need is one for further down the road with a couple of hangars that are more than 80 years old needing replaced.

“They’re left over from World War II, and we need larger hangars,” Smith said. “But we’re able to work with what we have for now.”

Brandon Shields, brandon@jacksonpost.news

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