A Different Airport Model

Branson’s new privately funded commercial airport offers a unique economic structure


A reflection of the region
Building an airport that reflects the flavor of the community and the region was a very important part of the design process, relates Bourke. However, because the airport is a business, he says they needed to build a low-cost facility. The total construction cost of the steel-framed 58,000-square foot terminal was some $15 million.

“It’s a pre-manufactured metal building; a low-cost facility that we have dressed up to look great and provide a comfortable atmosphere,” says Bourke.

“We have wood out of an 1871 buggy factory from Indiana all over the place; we have 200-year old wooden beams, and water features consisting of the region’s native stone.

“It was important to keep the cost down; but this is also a tourist destination, and this airport is the first impression of Branson that travelers experience. We think we have done a good job to reflect that.”

The construction and equipment required for the air traffic control tower, a contract tower, was also paid for by Branson Airport LLC.

The airport is complete with comprehensive general aviation facilities which offer fuel service, deicing, and private and community hangar space. The Branson JetCenter FBO, owned by the Branson Airport LLC, features a 3,600-square foot executive terminal with pilot lounges and a kitchen/vending area, WI-FI access, and a computerized weather and flight planning station.

Airport officials are currently working with the state tourism board and local businesses on advertising and marketing efforts to promote the airport.

A model to consider
“There are more than 40 countries around the world with privatized airports; we are not the first to think of this,” says Bourk. “It’s being done all over the globe; it’s just never been done in the U.S.

“This group here has decided to build everything, own everything, and operate like a business, without the restrictions and limitations that exist at other airports.

“I certainly believe there are things that can be learned from this project that can be applied to other airports. When this project proves itself, many municipalities will have to look at this model; and airlines will be interested in it as well.

“We strongly believe in the success of this model, and believe we are going to prove to the world that a private entity can run an airport, run it well, and be profitable at the same time.”

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