XNA board planning long-term improvements

Posted: April 13, 2017 at 1:06 a.m.

NWA Democrat-Gazette/File Photo Vehicles pack the parking lot at the Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport.

HIGHFILL -- Regional airport officials are working on long-term plans to expand the terminal in stages over the next several decades.

The plans include expansion of both concourses in a U shape along with expansion of the gates, terminal rotunda, baggage claims, security, arrivals and departures lobbies, administration, operations and support areas on both the land and air sides of the terminal, according to Ryk Dunkelberg, a consultant with Mead and Hunt. The consulting firm is creating the Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport Sustainability Management Plan.

Other action

Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport board met Tuesday and approved:

• A $381,949 task order to RS and H architectural and engineering firm for the design of two gates at the terminal building.

• A change order with Timlinson Asphalt Company in the amount of $414,000 for construction of a parking canopy on the east side of the terminal building for the relocation of the valet parking operation.

• A $163,977 contract to Nabholz Construction for refurbishment of a baggage carousel in the terminal.

• A $360,5000 contract to Hi-Lite Airfield Services for airfield markings and rubber removal.

• A $90,803 contract to Hugg & Hall to buy a new fork lift.

Source: Staff Reports

"That would finish out the terminal area development for the next 30 or 40 or 50 years," Dunkelberg said.

The process is in the planning stage, and design hasn't yet started. The projects have been prioritized, but it could be subject to change based on the high amount of traffic the airport has been seeing.

"Remember, this is just a planning snapshot, and what it's really based on is enplanements and your enplanements don't meet the norm so things could happen quicker than what we have programmed here," Dunkleberg said.

Enplanements, or the number of passengers flying out of the airport, have been running about double compared to estimates, said Scott VanLaningham, executive director of the airport. The airport reported 45,455 enplanements in February, up from 43,334 in February 2016.

"The maximum growth in those forecasts was 4 percent, and we're at 8," VanLaningham said.

More traffic and bigger jets are driving the need for expansion, Dunkleberg said.

Mike Johnson, airport board chairman, said having the plans and designs in place gives the board flexibility.

"We can kind of crunch the time line requirements by going ahead and having design, and, if we're not at that trigger point, we can pause right there without going into construction or we can push into construction," Johnson said. "So, we can deal with some of these timelines and shorten them without significant investment in the design side."

Dunkleberg said there should be plenty of room at XNA to expand.

"One of our major objectives was to make sure we have enough room for terminal expansion to make sure we weren't hemming in any of the needed development in the long-term with the construction of any of the parking structures or any of the air side development that we need," Dunkleberg said. "We have adequate room to meet all of that demand we have forecasted over the next several years."

The next move is to figure what the cost would be. Dunkelberg said the project should be eligible for cost sharing with the Federal Aviation Administration.

NW News on 04/13/2017