By Wayne Schutsky
Scottsdale Airport is scheduled to undergo a runway rehabilitation project this summer that will close the airport for 45 days.
The $12 million rehab is scheduled to begin on July 6 and will be the airport’s largest federally funded grant project.
Grant funding from the Federal Aviation Administration and Arizona Department of Transportation will cover 90% of the project cost. ADOT and the city of Scottsdale will pay the remaining 10%, according to the city.
The airport’s lone runway has not undergone any major rehabilitation since it was first built in 1967, airport spokeswoman Sarah Ferrara says.
The city completed an airport pavement report in 2018 and commissioned a more thorough field investigation by contractor Mead & Hunt in 2020 to confirm and update data on the state of the runway.
According to the city, the runway is in fair condition but is showing signs of distress, including cracking and raveling.
Additionally, the shoulders and blast pads are in poor condition, while some of the connectors and taxiways are still in good condition.
“The city has maximized the useful life of its one and only existing runway,” Ferrara says. “The runway is in critical need of rehabilitation to ensure the infrastructure is maintained in excellent condition to best serve the based and visiting aircraft customers.”
The rehab project will not increase the runway’s size or weight capacity.
The project will include rehabilitating the runway and associated connector taxiways along with reconstruction of the shoulders and blast pads.
It will also include electrical modifications, new pavement markings and reconstruction of the airport’s perimeter road.
The construction shutdown will mean a temporary loss of revenues for the airport, which operates as an enterprise fund, meaning it operates self-sufficiently without allocations from the city’s general fund.
Ferrara says construction was scheduled during the airport’s slowest month.
“Our best estimate is a loss of around $163,185 in airport revenues,” she says. “This is from losses in fuel sales, transient parking fees, customs fees, rental cars and transient landing fees.”
That would account for just a fraction of the airport’s total revenue.
The airport took in $5.9 million in total revenue in 2018-19 and is expected to exceed those numbers this fiscal year, which runs from July 2020 to June 2021, despite the negative impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the airline industry.
Scottsdale Airport appeared largely insulated from those impacts last year due to its reliance on private operators and charter providers.
“We became definitely very busy … a majority of the people that want to do whatever they can not to get on the airlines, not to be exposed, not to go through the whole airport process and risk infection,” says Ken Casey, director of sales and acquisitions with Pinnacle Aviation, a Scottsdale-based company that offers charter and management services.
The airport is expected to bring in even more revenue — around $6.5 million — in 2020-21.
When construction kicks off in July, the airport will be fully closed to all aircraft operations and flight training activities.
“We have contacted Valley airport representatives and have assembled a contact list to help our tenants find temporary relocation options,” Ferrara says.
Tenants can receive a copy of that list by contacting Ferrara at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Our contractors, Mead & Hunt and Banicki Construction are coordinating and working together to complete it in the quickest amount of time possible to reduce the impacts,” Ferrara says.