Catherine Mitchell of the City of Tacoma said Auburn's expansion wouldn't likely take away business from Tacoma Narrows Airport near Gig Harbor because the two are far enough apart.
One exception could be competition for business jets and other business from Boeing Field, Mitchell said.
The Auburn airport is in an industrial area north of downtown. Senior housing sits a few blocks south, and there are homes and apartments three blocks east.
The city tries to quickly resolve noise complaints it receives - usually about loud helicopters, Lewis and Garcia said.
Improvements started in 2004 when the city hired Garcia as managing member of the Airport Management Group. The runway was repaved last year. Garcia wants to lengthen it to 4,000 feet to handle more turbine props and jets. He also wants to start selling jet fuel - perhaps this year - and add global-positioning satellite navigation by spring 2007 for instrument landings in bad weather.
The expansion plans worry some longtime pilots like Bill Ashby of Bonney Lake.
''I like the airport the way it is now,'' said Ashby, 74, who's been flying out of Auburn for nearly a quarter-century. ''It's convenient.''
He fears that rates could go up for the two hangar bays he rents from the city for his three planes: one for $246 a month and the other for $127 a month.
''The concern for little guys like us is the price is going to force us to move - or possibly give up flying,'' he said.
Johnnie Swecker of Des Moines has been taking off and landing planes at Auburn for 30 years. Swecker, 75, and his wife, Janette, 72, are both pilots.
''It's adequate for my needs as it is,'' said Swecker, adding that he doesn't object to an expansion. ''It's the most convenient for our purposes.''
Bill Vandenberg, a developer from Surrey, British Columbia, has nearly finished the final eight of 46 hangars he's built at Auburn's airport. All but a few have been sold - most to buyers in Seattle and Bellevue who want to protect their planes and are attracted to the location.
Vandenberg says Auburn has optimistic airport plans that he hopes will bring success.
Thun Field has managed to avoid the major financial problems and neighborhood issues that have made other Puget Sound-area airports such financial pariahs.
Seattle-based Alaska Airlines sent a proposal to the King County Executive's Office late Friday outlining plans to offer 68 flights a day and to build a $150 million terminal with eight gates.
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