Board OKs Gary Airport Budget

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The city recently celebrated the completion of a long-awaited, $174 million runway expansion project. The city recently celebrated the completion of a long-awaited, $174 million runway expansion project.

The board of directors overseeing the Gary/Chicago International Airport Authority has approved an operating budget for 2016 that is unchanged from this year. The airport's Virginia-based manager, AFCO AvPORTS Management LLC, says the $2.9 million budget will head to the Gary Common Council for final approval by November 1.

In July, airport and city officials officially opened the full-length of the runway upon completion of a $174 million extension project. The work increased the size of the airport by nearly one-third and officials say it is set up for additional future commercial service and economic development opportunities. AvPORTS is recommending the board revise its Minimum Standards, which were crafted in 1991, as well as the rates and charges fees at the airport in an effort to align with "the current operating environment" and move more toward financial self-sufficiency.

AvPORTS Chief Operating Officer Tom Bartlett says "as we prime the airport for increased service, we're taking steps to ensure that the airport is up to standards from an operational standpoint. The Gary/Chicago International Airport needs to be a modern airport to accommodate future demands, and that means we need to be more aligned with market-based pricing."

The board is also asking for a new inclusion policy focused on local procurement of airport development contracts. Airport Executive Director Dan Vicari says "it has always been a priority of the Airport Authority to ensure jobs for local residents, but I want to be sure the airport is proactively engaged with the local community and preparing them for new opportunities at the airport."

Gary/Chicago International Airport also announced B. Coleman Aviation, a fixed-base operator at the airport, is now a "gateway operator" for Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, which allows passengers to fly directly to Washington D.C. without having to land in another "gateway" airport along the route.

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