The newest airport in Tennessee is undergoing a bit of a makeover. The runway at the Cleveland Regional Jetport, which opened in 2013, will be longer in the near future. The project began in late June, and once the runway is complete it'll help better serve the many pilots who use it.
For a small, private facility the Cleveland Regional Jetport stays busy serving 26 flights a day. Director Mark Fidler says a longer runway of 6,200 feet is necessary to accommodate pilots who want to fly here in larger business jets.
"We open up a whole new window of opportunity for aircraft operators that we currently can't serve with our present 5,500 feet of runway length," says Fidler.
More flights and larger planes will lead to more fuel sales and additional hangar rentals. The extra business will also lead to hiring more people.
"General Manager on-site to people who service the aircraft, greet customers as they come off their aircraft," adds Fidler.
The jetport's revenue will soar, and Cleveland mayor Tom Rowland says the city will benefit, too.
"We have Fortune 500 companies here. You see aircraft moving today. They need the airport to expedite their business," explains Rowland.
Pilots and passengers stay in local hotels, eat in local restaurants, and rent cars. The cost of the runway expansion is $2.5 million. It's being covered by a grant from TDOT's Aeronautics Commission plus $125,000 from the city of Cleveland. Rowland says using local taxpayer money to fund part of the project is an investment in the community.
"Look at your neighbors and see if you have a neighbor or yourself or someone in your family working for one of these companies," Rowland reminds us.
Fidler says when the airport was first designed, FAA officials didn't believe a longer runway was needed. Four years later they were persuaded to change their minds.
"We came back and showed them the justification, numerically, with the aircraft types and frequency that we currently have, and they agreed with us," says Fidler.
He hopes the runway extension will be complete in early October. Fidler also says discussions have begun with the federal government for the jetport to offer Customs and Border Protection services in the future.