By Gabriel Monte: CNJ staff writer
The city’s airport will need a facelift before undergoing a major operation, according to Municipal Airport Director Steve Summers.
The Federal Aviation Administration said the city airport will have to hold off on extending the main runway, which was planned this year, until the runway is repaved. “We’re put back a year due to the (rehabilitation) of the main runway,” Summers said.
Summers said a 1,800 foot extension to the main runway to accommodate more jets was scheduled for this year. The airport’s main traffic comes from Cheyenne, Wyo.-based Great Lakes Aviation, which operates about 12 round trip flights a week from Clovis, Summer said.
“We’ve got an increase in corporate jets that have justified the extension for safety reasons,” he said. “ … And also helps us in our future expansion, when (Cannon Air Force Base) gets up to capacity, we’ll be able to handle regional jets, (which are) probably 30-passenger jets.”
But resurfacing the runway was deemed necessary by the FAA before any extension can be done, according to City Manager Joe Thomas.
“It’s going to be a little bit of a delay (to extend the runway),” he said.
Summers said the asphalt on the runway is more than 35 years old.
“It’s just gotten to the point where it just needs to be milled off and a new layer of asphalt on it,” he said.
The extension is part of several projects the airport will execute to accommodate the large traffic expected once Cannon Air Force Base is fully manned, Summers said.
Other projects include more parking lot spaces, water source and storage improvements, and more security.
Summers said the airport is working with Sen. Jeff Bingaman to obtain discretionary funding to start dirt work on the extension. He said the extension currently is in the design stage.