By Chris Sasser
Texas A&M Transportation Institute
The new runway at Collin County Regional Airport (KTKI) was christened in memorable fashion on July 26 as three corporate jets carrying area representatives were the first to take off from the 7,002-foot runway. The passengers were treated to a 15-minute ride around the county as part of the events commemorating the runway’s opening.
The $52 million runway replaces the airport’s original runway built in 1979 and is expected to be connected to all of the taxiways by November. It comes one year after the airport built a 78-foot control tower, replacing its dated 33-foot tower. The runway is the Texas Department of Transportation’s (TxDOT’s) largest aviation construction project ever and incorporated significant sub-projects such as the relocation of a Farm-to-Market road, stormwater management system that generated a letter of map revision with the Corps of Engineers, enhanced perimeter fencing and access control and monitoring, a new perimeter road and AOA safety enhancements.
“It’s all about thinking toward the future,” said Collin County Regional Airport Director Ken Wiegand. “Last year we opened our air traffic control tower, and this year we opened our new runway. Our future plans include expanding our terminal building. I’ve always believed if you make a facility better, you’re going to attract more business, and that is certainly the goal of our airport.”
That theme resonated throughout the morning’s proceedings, as local officials echoed Wiegand’s sentiments about the importance of the airport to the city of McKinney and the surrounding areas.
“When we first started meeting 10 years ago to plan the airport’s future, we made a conscious effort to bring this airport forward as a regional asset,” said McKinney Mayor Brian Loughmiller. “We felt that if we were going to reach out to our sister cities, the county and the Dallas/Fort Worth area as a place for corporate aviation, then we had to be a regional airport. We are going to continue to grow as a regional asset because of the investments we have made in this airport.”
The regional impact of the airport is evident in the economic numbers. For 2010, the airport generated $44,248,730 in economic activity, $17,709,560 in salary wages and benefits and 378 jobs. The airport also saw an increase in flights last year from 79,170 to 83,001. Among the airport’s corporate clients are Texas Instruments, Hewlett-Packard, Crossmark, Horizon, Independent Bank, Flamingo Air, Jack Henry, Target, Van Tyl, Cabela’s, Kroger, Walmart and a host of fractionals and charters.
The runway was built to commercial standards in anticipation of continued growth. Officials said the goal is to offer commercial passenger flights out of the regional airport within 10 years.
“Business aircraft make business executives more efficient. It’s as simple as that,” said Collin County Judge Keith Self. “And I think the companies that move to Collin County and this region are going to experience the convenience of coming to this airport, hangaring their aircraft, and being able to fly wherever they do business. Looking into the future, we are in the center of the growth pattern of the Metroplex, and I believe this airport will eventually offer passenger service.”
The project’s completion was celebrated with a dedication ceremony on November 9, 2012, from 11:30 to 1:30.
For more information about Collin County Regional Airport, visit its website at http://www.flytki.com/.