Tallahassee Regional Airport Receives a 21st-Century Flight Plan

Tallahassee Regional Airport needs a longer runway, expanded baggage service and more gates to handle additional passengers and commercial traffic expected over the next 20 years.

Austin also said he thought the capital improvements would help the airport take advantage of the improving financial health of regional carriers as they expand into markets not fitted to standard carriers such as Delta or low-cost carriers such as AirTran.

Austin said he saw the airport's importance growing over the next few years, with the area's population expected to increase because of an influx of retiring baby boomers.

Some people think those boomers may be flying into a new $210million airport that's being proposed for Panama City, but Inglese said initial studies show that Tallahassee serves a different market and that competition should be limited.

"Tallahassee is a market that supports intrastate flights, state government and the universities," Inglese said. "Panama City is "predominately a leisure market."

"As long as our service appears to be reasonable, as it is today," he said, "you would not anticipate customers being drawn away from Tallahassee."

The hearing on the master plan at Tallahassee Community College last week was the first step in an 18-month process that includes approval by the airport's advisory committee and the Federal Aviation Administration.

Major master plan recommendations:

Expand the north-south runway and make sure taxi areas complement the expansion.

Increase the size and capacity of baggage claim area and move baggage security checkpoints away from ticket counters.

Add gates for more aircraft and passengers.

Increase parking areas and expand commercial cargo facilities.

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