With the economy on the upswing and Nevada especially benefitting, the Reno-Tahoe International Airport has been reviewing its master plan.
The airport’s master planning committee decided to create a new plan last October and the process is expected to take 16 months. Studies will need to be conducted that will forecast commercial airport passenger and air cargo figures as well as general aviation and military operations within the next 20 years. Depending upon what they find, the master plan will include base-growth, low-growth and high-growth scenarios for 2021, 2026 and 2036.
“We’ve seen phenomenal growth in our community and diversification of the economy. We thought it was a perfect time to look 20 years in the future and see where we need to go,” said Brian Kulpin, vice president of marketing and public affairs for the RTIA. “We want to know where we need to grow and foresee the challenges that lie ahead.”
Once the master plan is approved by the Federal Aviation Administration, the airport will be able to evaluate whether they will need to add, expand or renovate facilities to keep up with demand. This could include expanded parking, revised runways or taxiways, or terminal modernization or expansion. Mead & Hunt, a national firm specializing in airport master planning, will lead the planning process.
The last time a master plan was put together was in 1991. This new plan will mean great changes for the airport as they have been adding flights right and left in recent years.
“The airport has added 1,500 daily seats in the last two years. We had 14 new flights in two years,” Kulpin said. “We went thought the economic downturn where we lost flights so to be on the other side now it is a good place to be.”
The RTIA is welcoming public comment during this 16-month planning process. “We want to know what the community thinks. We want to know what the key issues are to them,” Kulpin said. “The airport generates $2 billion in economic impact to the community. That’s how vital this master plan is to the community.”
While planning commences, business keeps rolling as usual at RTIA. This summer, United Airlines will start daily flights between Reno and Chicago. Flights will start on June 8 and will run seven days a week. In addition to the Chicago connection, in the past year the Reno Airport has added nonstop daily service to Oakland, San Jose and Dallas Love Field on Southwest, Atlanta on Delta, Long Beach on JetBlue and Orange County on Alaska Airlines.
Could the addition of these new flights indicate that tech business travel to Reno is on the rise? RTIA CEO Marily Mora said that there are a combination of factors driving the increase in traffic to the airport. While a lot of the traffic through the airport is leisure, there has been significant growth in advanced manufacturing, technology companies and distribution centers.
“All those different sectors are really pushing not only the passenger traffic, but we’re also seeing cargo traffic increase,” Mora said.
Just in the last few years, the airport has added a total of 14 new flights.
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