Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Growth takes off at Camarillo Airport (KCMA)

A construction crew is busy putting the final touches on a building that will soon house about a dozen, much-needed hangars at Camarillo Airport.

Construction of the building, being erected on the east side of the 650-acre airport, is expected to be finished within weeks, Nicholas Martino, airport operations supervisor, said on Wednesday morning as he toured the area.

For many pilots, the hangars can't come soon enough.

"There's about a five-year waiting list right now," Todd McNamee, Ventura County's director of airports, said this week, noting there are more than 150 names on that list.

To help satisfy at least some of this pent-up demand, more hangars are in the works to be built along the airport's east end during the coming months, Martino said. Under the current plan, the construction will eventually bring the number of hangars to about 450.

The new hangars are coming online as more pilots, along with corporate executives and other well-heeled commuters, are choosing to land at Camarillo Airport instead of other places, including Van Nuys Airport, which ranks as one of the busiest general aviation airports in the nation, according to officials there.

As many as 140 new hangars have either been built or are planned for construction at the Camarillo Airport, McNamee said.

The airport also is seeing increased interest from pilots looking for an alternative to Santa Monica Airport. The growth in interest is being spurred in part by a recent announcement from the Federal Aviation Administration, allowing the city of Santa Monica to shorten the runway there from about 5,000 to 3,500 feet within a year. The FAA also announced the airport's permanent closure at the end of 2028.

Camarillo Airport now has about 300 hangars, McNamee said, with about 170 of them privately owned. The others are county owned, he said. Private hangar owners pay 12 ½ cents a month per square foot to the county since the land on which the hangar sits is publicly owned, McNamee said.

Those in county-owned hangars pay 33 cents per square foot per month, he said.

The Camarillo Airport also will be closed for a time in 2021 as workers repave the runway. It's been about 25 years since the 6,000-foot-long runway was last repaved, Martino said. The runway project is expected to cost about $14 million.

McNamee told the Camarillo City Council in 2016 that the Camarillo Airport will likely be closed for about three months as the runway undergoes reconstruction. The Oxnard Airport will be shut down for about the same period in 2019, he said, as its runway also undergoes reconstruction. Officials are staggering the projects in part to accommodate those who use the Camarillo or Oxnard airports allwoing them to use the other one while work is being done.

Meanwhile, Camarillo Airport officials have been steadily reducing the number of cars stored there to make room for construction projects. Hyundai and Kia had been using about 35 acres of land at the airport to store new vehicles after running out of space on land leased near the Port of Hueneme.

The Camarillo Airport is completely self-sustaining, generating enough money to pay for the costs of running it, McNamee said. The airport also is a big contributor to the area economy, he said, noting a 2008 study that found that it contributed $163 million a year.

"That amount is substantially more now," he said. Included in this amount, are the 2,500 or so jobs that are generated by the Camarillo and Oxnard airports, he said.


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