McKinney, Texas Seeks to Attract Airline Passenger Service

City officials have long said they hoped to attract airline service to the city's airport. On Monday, the City Council took a formal step in that direction.

Council members agreed to hire consultants to determine whether Collin County Regional Airport can attract and retain air passenger service. The McKinney Economic Development Corp. will pay Jacobs Consultancy of San Francisco $69,800 to complete the study. The study is expected to be completed by early February.

"It's basically testing the water," said Ken Wiegand, the airport's director.

If consultants say there's a market, the consultant and city officials would visit airlines to sell them on the idea, he said. Plans to lure airlines could include cash incentives.

The airport currently handles corporate jets and private planes. But Mr. Wiegand said some commercial airlines might find the area attractive. The airlines, he added, probably wouldn't come with the hopes of competing with Dallas Love Field or Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.

"This would probably be a niche market serving people of Collin County and the region," he said.

The city has big plans for the airport. It already has a 7,001-foot runway that can accommodate a jet the size of a Boeing 737, Mr. Wiegand said.

In November 2004, the City Council approved a $107 million airport growth plan that includes a new runway and additional buildings and taxiways.

State and federal officials are currently reviewing an environmental impact study on the proposed runway.

The plan anticipates a doubling of takeoffs and landings and a tripling of jet aircraft in hangars at the airport by 2022.

Airport hangars currently house nine corporate jets, Mr. Wiegand said. And there are roughly 104,000 takeoffs and landings each year.

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