Will Rogers World Airport officials look ahead for continued growth

Published: Tuesday, March 10, 2009 7:00 am By: Brian Brus

The Journal Record

OKLAHOMA CITY -- A dismal economy will not keep Will Rogers World Airport from taking a longer perspective -- 20 years out -- for continued growth, Airport Director Mark Kranenburg said.

"We should always be planning for the future," Kranenburg said. "You have to remember that last March we didn't have any gates available and we couldn't bring in anybody new. Now we've got a few gates and we're working hard to fill those up.

"My view is that this thing could turn around to the positive as quickly as it turned around to the negative," he said.

Airport authorities will hold a community meeting at 5:30 p.m. Thursday to discuss the airport's future. The meeting will be in the airport's conference room near the east security point on the second floor of the terminal.

Long-term master plans are not unusual; they provide an agency with projections and a general guide over several years so officials don't have to make hasty, unnecessarily expensive decisions later, Kranenburg said.

"Public participation is an important facet of the airport's planning process," Kranenburg said. "Both Oklahoma City and Will Rogers World Airport have changed a lot in recent years. The master plan allows us to validate previous planning concepts and determine future projects to meet customer demand."

Will Rogers is home to 67 companies, including the Federal Aviation Administration's Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center, the Federal Bureau of Prisons Transfer Center, Southwest Airlines Reservation Center and Metro Tech's Aviation Career Center. Commercial carriers average about 70 departures each day, and more than 4 million passengers travel through Will Rogers World Airport annually.

Kranenburg recently attended an air service industry conference where he heard from peers that business in cities such as Austin and San Antonio, Texas, isn't being hit too badly by the recession.

"Oklahoma City still generates 80 percent of the economic development of the state. We created jobs in 2008 and we anticipate more in 2009," he said. "Every airline that I talked to last week was very positive about Oklahoma City and are looking to our city for opportunities."

Will Rogers' latest plans will be supported with market research from consultant Barnard Dunkelberg & Co. Kranenburg said officials will consider an east concourse expansion similar to the western addition that happened a few years ago and an automobile parking study.

For 2008, the airport saw passenger boardings drop half a percentage point over 2007. Kranenburg said he expects that drop to level out soon and to grow again over the next few years. Airlines across the country are making economic adjustments by reducing their flights or adjusting plane sizes to meet local market demands.

"Where we are cautious is recognizing whether airline flights have decreased and how many daily passenger seats are available each day -- that impacts our revenues. So we're cautious as far as fiscal responsibility.. . .But continued growth is still important."

Back to top