Friday, October 23, 2020

Bigger, Safer, Better


Rendition of the renovated Marco Island Executive Airport. Submitted

Rendition of the renovated Marco Island Executive Airport. Submitted

Improved safety and increased capacity on multiple fronts will be the end result of the Marco Island Executive Airport’s $9.3 million renovation project.

The work will include building a new, much larger terminal located further away from the runway than the existing facility, and additional parking for aircraft and motor vehicles.

“It’s a project initiated to enhance safety, primarily, at the airport and to construct a new terminal facility approximately 500 feet west of our current structure, which is within too close proximity to our current runway,” said Justin Lobb, manager of the Collier County Airport Authority. “Ultimately, this new design and facility will bring the airport up to modern day FAA safety standards.”

Lobb explained that the airport, which opened in 1976 and expanded in the mid- 1990s, is not so much out of compliance with Federal Aviation Administration regulations, but rather the facility has been “grandfathered in to some newer regulations that have been enacted over time.”

The overarching issue is the fact the existing terminal is within unsafe distance of the runway, he added.

In addition to a new terminal, followed by the razing of the existing one, work will include, creating additional parking for planes and jets to alleviate congestion, and sufficient navigable taxi-lane space for aircraft to safely access and depart from the new terminal.

“With the additional apron (parking) capacity, we anticipate being able to accommodate a greater capacity in our very busy peak season and on those busy weekend holidays, in-season, in particular,” said Lobb.

Plans call for the existing, one-story, roughly 7,000 square-foot terminal to be replaced by a two-story, 16,000 squarefoot facility containing a larger customer lounge area and more office space for the business operators, which generate revenue for the authority.

The airport is home to three flight schools and two charter flight operators.

Florida’s Department of Transportation is funding the bulk of the work, which is slated to begin in late March and be completed in a maximum of one year.

West Construction, based in Palm Beach County, is the contractor for the project.

Dale Brooks, director of operations and a pilot for Aviation North, one of the airport’s charter services, is looking forward to the improvements.

“I think they’re great,” he said. “Any time we can get more people in the airport it gives us more exposure. More foot traffic is more exposure for us.”

Lobb said usage has been increasing yearly at the airport.

“So while enhancing safety is a primary objective of the project, it ultimately is about capacity and addressing growing demand, and a facility that will also accommodate growth projects for the next ten to twenty years.”

The Marco Island Executive Airport is located at 2005 Mainsail Drive. For more information, call 239-394-3355.

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