Wichita Falls City Councilors approved several major applications for Municipal Airport funds on Tuesday morning that could affect the way you travel to and from the Falls.
Councilors first approved an application to the Federal Aviation Administration for $5 million to begin work on Phase 1 of the new terminal project. FAA Approval of those funds was reliant on a firm commitment by the City to see the project through.
Councilors demonstrated their commitment by also approving a resolution allowing for applications to the Wichita Falls 4B and Economic development boards. Those applications are for $140,000 annually for 20 years. The money will be used to help offset a $20 million debt created by Phase 2 of the terminal project. Here's a look at how the funding for Phase 2 is proposed to be broken down:
- FAA Payment: $642,000
- Municipal Airport Payment: $410,000
- Remaining City Payment (To be partially covered by 4A/4B boards): $420,000
The new terminal comes with many amenities you'd find at a major air traffic hub. The new terminal would be twice as large as the current 53 year old building, come with Jetways leading out to planes, and have more room for screening and lounging.
Director of Aviation, Traffic & Transportation John Burrus said the larger terminal also opens the door for more aircraft. He said, "It gives us the capacity we need to approach other air carriers to see if they can come into our market not only to provide charter service but also commercial air service to another destination as well."
Those destinations wont be international or even cross-country, but they do offer options and additional destinations like Lovefield, Houston or even Denver, Colorado.
Many Texoma residents said they like the idea of a new terminal simply because it would be good for the city's image. One resident said, "If this area is going to grow I think that we need to start there because that's the first thing people see when they fly in." Another said it's all about first impressions. "A lot of people base how nice is the rest of the town on that airport so sure I'm all for it."
Burrus noted that impression is important for businesses as well. He said, "An airport is vital. Very important to the economic development of the community. Not only do local businesses have to access rural markets but also businesses are looking to relocate to Wichita Falls. That's their first impression of our community when they get here."
Burrus said the FAA has been instrumental in making this project possible. He said, "I work with a lot of federal agencies, and a lot of state agencies and I have never worked with a federal agency like this. One that is wanting to help the community solve a problem as badly as the FAA is wanting to help us right now."
We'll know more about any new flights or airlines as their negotiations move forward. Burrus said he hopes to break ground on phase one of the terminal project by October.