Friday, November 20, 2020

Cargo business takes off at Thief River Falls Regional Airport (KTVF)

The cargo business is taking off at the Thief River Falls Regional Airport. Manager Joe Hedrick provided an update to the Thief River Falls City Council at its meeting Tuesday, November 17th.

The Thief River Falls Regional Airport Authority is currently in the preliminary design phase for a 50,000 square-foot cargo hangar that would be constructed south of its fuel farm. The hangar would have enough space to park three CRJ-200 aircraft. FedEx and UPS transitioned to those larger aircraft last year. The user or users of the hangar would pay rent.

The Airport Authority has received $5.5 million in bonding bill proceeds for the estimated $7.5 million project. “To my knowledge, if we build a $5.5 million hangar, there would be a zero [local] share,” Hedrick said.

The Airport Authority had initially sought $6.75 million in bonding bill proceeds. “There’s additional funding choices that we have yet to consider,” said Hedrick, who noted the Airport Authority may decrease the size of the hangar. If that were the case, the Airport Authority would then build the hangar with the intention to add on to it in the future.

Construction is expected to begin in mid-summer 2021 with completion targeted for fall 2022.

The current multipurpose hangar won’t be sitting empty. Everybody is knocking on the Airport Authority’s door to obtain space at the multipurpose hangar, said Hedrick, who referred to Denver Air Connection, Textron and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources as potential tenants.

“We think that we will have full occupancy of the existing multipurpose hangar,” Hedrick said.

Other projects are on the calendar as well. Hedrick reported that it appears the airport has met the threshold to qualify for an 8,000-foot runway. Currently, the airport has a 6,500-foot runway. If the Airport Authority moves forward with the project, the runway will be shifted slightly away from the river and a roadway will need to be relocated.

Work also continues on the master plan update. Hedrick noted the master plan will forecast future plans at the airport with users, aircraft and needs in mind.

The Airport Authority also anticipates replacing the airport’s 50-year-old lighting system next year.

The council approved appointing Scott Waldal to the Airport Authority. The Pennington County Board is also required to approve lay member appointments to the Airport Authority. County Board was expected to consider Waldal’s appointment at its meeting Tuesday, Nov. 24. If both entities approve Waldal’s appointment, he will succeed Nancy Tofte. Waldal currently serves as the chairperson of the Rocksbury Township Board.

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