Sunday, November 22, 2009

Airport Board Game

Panama City is giving up not only its historic financial interest that is being sold for $50 Million (about half the cost of the poor grading work at NWFBIA), it has given up a close-in community airport and it now appears the regional airport will not replace the community airport's crosswind capacity that is needed by light planes over 100 days a year. As a critic (not a luddite opponent), I tried for years to get the board to finance the new airport separately and deliver two airports (the new one 10,000 feet) by seeking another $50 Million or so, or foregoing the crosswind. (Don't tell me an interest that can raise $250 Million can't get $300 Million, the cost escalation exceeds $150 Million and the consulting fees will approach $100 Million.) Much of the cost of the new airport is duplicating the general aviation facilities at PFN, probably better than a break-even offset if the crosswind runway is included. This is the plan Ft. Myers followed; SW Florida Regional had only one runway for 25 years, and still has no crosswind because Page Field is still in Ft. Myers and heavily used. When this is over, Panama City will be the only sizeable city in Florida without a paved and instrumented community airport within 10 miles. Even Okaloosa has two paved general aviation airports, even though Eglin AFB dominates the airspace and hosts the airline terminal.

I'll never understand why the boosters launched this project with a fear mongering campaign that assumed the public was easier to fool than to persuade.

The winners get to write history and the new airport's deal with Southwest is a resounding winner. That does not mean there was never a competitive alternative with the same outcome.

As for the board, it really doesn't matter - the airport is influenced much more by external interests - just like every other political honey pot.

in reference to: Airport board game - EDITORIAL - The News Herald (view on Google Sidewiki)

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