July marked the beginning of a project to update the airport's master plan. What is a master plan?
It's a planning document that looks into the future and tries to predict what will happen at the airport—how many passengers will use the airport ten years from now? In 20 years? What kind of infrastructure improvements will the airport need to make and when? It really boils down to three main questions: 1) what infrastructure improvements will the airport need in the future? 2) When will the improvements be needed? 3) How will the improvements be paid for?
Airport master plans are written by companies that specialize in airport planning. It's their job to write an objective, fact based plan. The firm updating our master plan is Jviation. The total cost of the plan: $707,819.00. The airport pays $35,391.00 of that total, with the rest picked up by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
If that price tag makes your head spin, stand in line. But that's what it costs to bring in the specialized skills required to do airport master planning analysis. And the FAA isn't likely to help pay for future improvements unless there's a plan in place.
Airport master plans are typically reviewed and updated about every 20 years. Our airport’s first master plan was completed in 1967. It was updated in 1977 and 1993.
How is the master plan used? When you get right down to it a master plan helps you stay ahead of the curve. The airport reviews the master plan on a regular basis to see how the plan’s projections compare with reality. Hypothetical example: suppose the plan projects that an additional parking lot will be needed when the airport has one million passengers a year. As time goes on, and as passenger numbers approach one million, the airport will know, with help from the master plan, that it’s time to start building the additional parking lot.
There a couple of things that a master plan isn't. It's not a wish list for future air service There's nothing the airport can do, from an infrastructure point of view, that will entice an airline to fly from Springfield to New York City. Airline service decisions are mainly driven by the population of the metropolitan area, per capita income, demand, and airline economics.
Here's another thing a master plan isn't: it's not a wish list for airport improvements. The plan merely tells you at what point you'll need to make improvements.
During the next 18 months we'll be talking a lot about the master plan...stay tuned.