Airport outlook taking off

Business is good at the Big Spring Airport and officials are taking steps to make sure business gets even better in the future.Airport Director Jim Little said Friday he has received confirmation from the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) concerning the agency's plan to provide most of the funds for the construction of a T hangar at the facility.A T hangar is a long building divided into sections. Each section would be big enough to house an aircraft.The final price tag has not been established, but TxDOT would cover 90 percent of its cost, with the remainder coming from the city, Little said.Aside from that building, Little said the airport is in negotiations with some private companies to build additional hangars at the airport. He added, however, that those negotiations are still in the preliminary phase and no definite decisions have been reached.With the oil boom being the main driving force, growth projections for Big Spring have been very optimistic recently and Little said the airport must prepare for that expected growth.“We do anticipate more airplanes and more utilization of the airport and the (McMahon-Wrinkle Airpark), and we're already seeing some of that,” he said. “We're seeing a good number of aircraft coming in from the oil and wind industries, as well as other businesses.”One example Little pointed to is the stationing at the airport of a pair of helicopters attached to a firm which inspects and repairs power lines.The new hangar and more aircraft may just be the tip of the iceberg when it comes to future expansion and Little conceded the airport complex has a lot of work to do to handle the anticipated boom.“It's a mixed bag,” Little said of the anticipated increase in demand of airport and airpark services. “We have some space (to handle expansion), but we also have infrastructure needs, such as electrical, water and sewage, that have to be addressed if we're going to bring in new businesses.”Aside from an increase in air traffic, more land vehicles are expected to travel to and from the airpark after construction of the Highway 87 reliever route, which is expected to begin this year, is complete. As part of that new route, a connector road will be built between the reliever route and the airpark, resulting in more commercial traffic to the area, Little said.“We are anticipating a dramatic increase in air and vehicular traffic in the near future,” he said.