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Vol. 17, No. 3, 2017

An airport’s story: St. Cloud Regional Airport

St. Cloud Regional Airport runway

Central Minnesota’s St. Cloud Regional Airport opened in 1970 as a municipal airport that is owned and operated by the City of St. Cloud. Spanning nearly 1,400 acres, this transport category airport houses large civil airplanes and helicopters while also offering several hangar bays for lease.

Commercial airline Allegiant offers domestic flights to Phoenix and Fort Myers through the airport, but getting daily mainline service to a hub is a challenge the airport is currently facing. According to airport director Bill Towle, the airport hasn’t always had access to a mainline carrier. “The airport lost air service in 2010 and was able to attract another mainline carrier in 2014 only to have that carrier discontinue service a year later,” he said.

An army aviation support facility, also located at this airport, houses some of the National Guard’s aircrafts and helicopters. The juxtaposition of commercial and private flights going into and out of the airport enables the city to generate significant revenue, working to stimulate the economy in the area.

Changes to the airport have helped stimulate its success, but have also added some growth-related issues. “The airport is growing fairly quickly and it has been challenging to provide enough hangar space for those wanting to base their aircraft here, especially large corporate aircraft,” Towle said. He added that the airport is in the process of expanding the general aviation hangar area, which will help alleviate this issue.

The airport recently received attention after undergoing a large construction project that extended its main runway (Runway 31), for which it received the Minnesota Council of Airports (MCOA) 2017 Project of the Year Award in the category of Commercial Service. Towle says the award “reinforces the fact that this was an important project that added value to the aviation community.” The project was successfully completed through the cooperation of the City of St. Cloud, consultant Mead & Head, and contractor S.M. Hentges & Sons.

The runway expansion will improve the safety of landings and takeoffs, especially in an area that experiences many days of winter snow and ice. “The extension provides a safer environment for aircraft to operate in by providing additional runway length, even if they don’t require it all the time,” Towle said.

In addition, this extension will allow larger and faster airplanes to take off and land on the main runway, making the airport a much more desirable location for commercial airlines or simply newer aircraft models.

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