Change That's Good

After losing $2 million a year less than a decade ago, the airport now produces an annual operating profit and is debt-free

In early 2010, the authority completed a comprehensive master plan that establishes a long-range vision to maximize the airport’s potential in the context of the region’s corporate and other GA needs. The plan identifies the land that should be preserved for future aviation and non-aviation development, and prioritizes investments in a comprehensive financial plan recognizing the authority’s financial goals and competing needs for federal and state funds.

Primary projects and recommendations include:

• decommissioning the airport’s original runway 15/33 and preserving approximately 70 acres in the northeast quadrant for future non-aviation uses;

• strengthening and widening primary runway 2L/20R and associated taxiways;

• extending runway 2R/20L and constructing a full-length parallel taxiway;

• implementing aviation infrastructure and utilities on a 45-acre site in the southeast quadrant of the airport to facilitate GA and commercial aviation maintenance/repair/overhaul-type development; and

• developing aviation infrastructure adjacent to the DuPage Flight Center.

In general, the overall $145 million, 20-year plan represents a logical “next step” to the airport’s long-term development, according to airport officials. The area was designated for continued corporate aviation expansion and provides easy access to the primary airfield infrastructure used by corporate aircraft — primarily runway 2L/20R.

The new general aviation facilities to be developed on the east side of the airport, which include hangars, aprons, access roadways, vehicular parking, and various GA-related businesses, are intended to replace the original 50--plus year old facilities on the airport’s northeast quadrant.

Some 125 acres of on-airport land were identified for future non-aviation development (70 acres in the northeast quadrant are currently in direct aviation use, while 53 acres elsewhere on property are undeveloped). Pursuing non-aviation development on land not needed for future airport facilities would enable the authority to supplement its existing aviation-based revenue stream to help fund airport capital improvements and operations.

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Eric Bernhardt, a director withLeigh|Fisher, contributed to this report.

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