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Airport officials tout facility's strengths to development chief

Airport officials tout facility's strengths to development chief

April 15th, 2019 by Greg Bischof in Texarkana News

Texarkana Regional Airport officials are looking at starting construction next year on a proposed 38,000-square-foot, $37 million passenger terminal. The new terminal will replace the airport's current 16,000-square-foot terminal.

Photo by Submitted to the Texarkana Gazette /Texarkana Gazette.

With Ark-Tex Regional Economic Development Inc. taking the lead in Texarkana-area job creation nearly a year ago, the Twin-Cities Airport Finance Committee recently showcased the town's air travel advantages.

Last week, committee members met with REDI President and Chief Executive Officer Rob Sitterley and gave him an overview of the airport's structure, operations, advantages and ongoing improvement projects.

Airport Director Mark Mellinger spoke first about the airport's governing structure since both Texarkana, Texas, and Ark., jointly own the property.

Mellinger said that since both cities own the airport, the Airport Authority Board is jointly made up of eight members—four from each side. He added that the joint municipal ownership percentage of financial responsibility is based on each city's population. The Texas-side has nearly 54.7 percent of the population, while the Arkansas-side has slightly more then 45.2 percent.

Mellinger said if the airport's overall annual operations and maintenance budget—which amounts to close to $1 million—faces a deficit, each city provides a subsidy to cover the difference based on each city's share of population as provided by a 1956 ordinance.

Mellinger noted the airport also has a relatively new and large fire station, which opened a few years ago.

Regarding under developed airport acreage, Mellinger said the airport has two sections of land just south of its primary and secondary runway crossings—both sections collectively amounting to 102 acres. There's also two land sections east of the runways collectively amounting to 84 acres and one section of land to the north—set between Interstate 49 and U.S. Highway 67—amounting to 28 acres. Mellinger and committee members suggested that this property could be developed in support of aviation-related manufacturing along with possible air cargo storage.

As for recent and developing capital improvement projects, Mellinger pointed to the relatively recent opening of East 19th Street as the future new airport's main entrance. This would eventually allow airport users to avoid having to cross the railroad tracks running alongside U.S. Highway 67 at the older entrance.

As for current and ongoing projects, Mellinger construction could start as early as next year on a proposed new 38,000 square-foot, $35 to $37 million passenger terminal to replace the 16,000 square-foot terminal that dates back to about 1960. Once that's completed, there are plans to bring new airline destinations to the airport's flight schedules. Currently only three to four flights a day exist—all of them to and from DFW International Airport. The new terminal is also slated to be equipped with jet bridges.

"We will have jet bridges because when people fly to our airport, first impressions matter," Mellinger said.

Following the committee's presentation, Sitterley said he was impressed with what he saw.

"Right now, there are so many great assets in this community and we just have to start marketing them and selling them to the right people wanting to locate here," he said. "REDI sells what is positive and the things I see here are positive."

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