HIGHFILL — Directors of the Northwest Arkansas National Airport agreed Wednesday to spend money to provide a safe experience for the flying public during and after the covid-19 pandemic.
The board agreed to spend up to $860,000 for equipment to improve air quality throughout the terminal building and to pursue grants to offset the expense.
The board asked Kelly Johnson, chief operating officer, and her staff to find the best options.
Johnson said staff worked with HP Engineering, a mechanical engineering firm, to study the terminal and its mechanical systems. They recommended upgrades to improve air quality by diluting, exhausting, containing and cleaning the indoor air. Johnson asked for the additional money to contract with Trane to look at new products based on those recommendations.
“New systems are out there. We’ve been looking at dry hydrogen peroxide, needlepoint bio-ionization, bi-polar ionization, they’re going to help us sort through all this and see what the best solutions would be for our airport,” Johnson said.
“It may not be the same solution in every area of the airport. But, with that said, we’d like to be authorized to spend another $860,000 to review, investigate, do our due diligence and install equipment as we come to those conclusions,” she said.
Needlepoint bipolar ionization technology produces positive and negative ions that travel with the air supply into a space. The ions cause particles such as dust, dander, pollen, bacteria and virus to attract and stick together, which increases the effectiveness of filters.
Dry hydrogen peroxide systems generate hydrogen peroxide from ambient humidity and oxygen present in the environment. The molecules travel throughout an enclosed space to attack and reduce viruses, bacteria, mold, odors and many insects.
Board member Mike Johnson cautioned Kelly Johnson to go heavy on the due diligence, noting the effectiveness against covid isn’t entirely known for some of the new systems.
“There are a lot of things out there and more emerging onto the market. Some are a little more tested in Europe and others are not,” Mike Johnson said. “Some have very specific applications with dry hydrogen peroxide being one.”
Installing dry hydrogen peroxide air cleaning devices throughout the terminal could cost $900,000 and bipolar ionization air cleaning devices at each heating and cooling unit to clean recirculated air could cost another $100,000, according to materials provided to the board.
Kelly Johnson said the changes will enhance the safety of airport customers and employees and assure them efforts are being made to keep them safe.
The board in June approved spending $200,000 for equipment or capital projects specifically designed to reduce the risk of virus transmission in the airport terminal. The airport has installed ultraviolet lighting units in the heating and cooling system’s 11 air handling units at a cost of $45,121.
Touchless drinking fountains have been installed throughout the terminal at a cost of $50,765.
An electrostatic spraying system using a hospital grade sanitizer was purchased to disinfect all public spaces, seating and touch points throughout the terminal and other buildings at a cost of $5,000.
Northwest National had been paying $500 per weeknight and $700 for weekend nights for an outside company to do the spraying. The work was brought in-house where it’s now done by the airport maintenance staff at a lower cost, according to Kelly Johnson.
Ron Wood can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @NWARDW.
Source: Northwest Arkansas National Airport
The Northwest Arkansas National Airport board approved its 2021 budget along with airline rates and charges Wednesday. The budget reflects about $11.9 million in revenue and $11.9 million in expenses, not including non-operating items and capital expenses. The budget reflects passengers and income being off for some time. Passengers have been down about 60%. Rates and charges to airlines will be held at 2020 levels for at least several months of 2021 to help the airlines and so officials can see what a covid-19 pandemic recovery might look like. The move should allow XNA to keep its cost per passenger at about $13.47 and stay competitive with other airports. The cost per passenger has been in the $7 range in recent years.