Saturday, June 3, 2017

Fort Myers' Page Field (KFMY) briefly closing to airplane traffic during runway repaving




The thrum of airplanes over Page Field halts Monday.

That hush could linger for most of five days.

What’s up?

Primary runway 5-23 at Fort Myers’ general aviation airport is being rebuilt after more than 20 years’ service.

Since mid-April when the runway update began, the secondary 13-31 runway has handled all air traffic. But work on the two runways’ intersection starts Monday, barring really bad weather.

That puts both runways temporarily out of commission, says the Lee County Port Authority.

Port authority staffers can’t recall a time when air traffic stopped so long at Page, a regional reliever airport that’s more than 90 years old.



But they say it’s necessary to complete the preventive maintenance and upgrades.

Only helicopter operations are unaffected.

Page tenants – more than 300 aircraft and 16 businesses – are prepared, if not universally enthusiastic.

“It’s a pain in the butt for us. We have to move our planes over to RSW and Naples,” said Glenn Frith, president and founder of ACI, a charter flight and airplane management firm based at Page.

“Those runways do take a lot of use and abuse,” Frith noted. In 2016, Page Field handled nearly 109,000 takeoffs and landings.

ACI will move nine aircraft to the neighboring airports Sunday afternoon, to handle bookings for next week as well as any last-minute business.



Higher fuel prices and landing fees are two consequences. Frith estimates the company will incur $5,000 to $10,000 in extra costs.

At Paragon Flight Training, ground school will continue, with some instructors taking time off, said Jeffrey Wolf, chief flight instructor.

Airport managers “have done a good job of keeping us informed,” Wolf said, and that allowed the school to prepare students for the hiatus.

Wolf reckons this won’t happen again for another 20 or 30 years.

And, given Southwest Florida’s busy winter and early spring seasons for visitors, Wolf said, “It’s better this happens now instead of in February and March.”


AT A GLANCE

WHERE: Page Field airport, Fort Myers

WHAT: Rehab of primary runway 5-23

DETAILS: Includes milling, repaving, electrical, lighting and drainage work

BIG PICTURE: One phase in a project that also will repave taxiways.

COST: $24 million

WHO PAYS: State and federal grants, port authority revenues

GENERAL CONTRACTOR: O-A-K

ESTIMATED COMPLETION DATE: Sept. 29

Story, video and photo gallery:  http://www.news-press.com

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