Major Taxiway Rehab Project Included in TAA 2018 Budget

Extending one taxiway and rehabilitating another are among $11.5 million worth of airfield improvements at Tucson International Airport included in a $39.2 million operating and capital budget approved by the Tucson Airport Authority Board of Directors for fiscal year 2018.

The budget, which took effect October 1, is 4.6 percent higher than the $37.4 million budget that was approved for 2017. The new budget accounts for passenger traffic changes that have taken place over the past year, including the addition of Alaska Airlines’ new nonstop flights to San Jose that started August 28.

Richard Gruentzel, Vice President of Administration and Finance and CFO, said revenue from concessions is forecast to increase by $1.6 million (+11.7 percent). About half of the increase is the result of new retail and food and beverage contracts. The other half comes from a combination of increased parking revenue due to increased rates to cover higher operating costs and revenue from the introduction of app ride services (Lyft and Uber) that were unbudgeted last year.

As part of the budget, the aircraft landing fee for the new fiscal year was reduced 19.4 percent to $1.04 per 1,000 pounds of landed weight from $1.29. The landing fee, along with other airport costs, goes into the cost per enplanement (CPE) for airlines.

The estimated CPE in the 2018 budget is $8.05, which is a 4.7 percent reduction from the fiscal year 2016 CPE of $8.45. (The actual CPE is calculated after the end of the fiscal based on final passenger numbers.)

A $2.1 million project to extend Taxiway G in the southeast section of the airfield will open up additional development areas ideally suited for aircraft Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) operators and other businesses needing large hangars.  Another project will include taxiway and access road infrastructure on the west side of the airfield, further preparing another site for commercial development.

The taxiway being rehabilitated, Taxiway D, serves as the primary runway access point for the Arizona Air National Guard and general aviation aircraft, according to Mike Smejkal, TAA Vice President of Planning and Engineering. It is also used by other aircraft, including airlines, when wind conditions warrant the use of the airport’s cross-wind runway.

“This taxiway was last improved in 2000. It’s in such condition that it is in need of a mill and overlay to continue to serve the needs of our users,” Vice President of Projects and Engineering Mike Smejkal said.

The TAA’s 2018 budget also includes $1.2 million for projects at Ryan Airfield, including an update to the general aviation airport’s Master Plan, installation of a precision airport path indicator system and some taxiway improvements.