Runway Work To Close Airport
Silver Airways To Suspend Glasgow Flights 3 Weeks
By Samar Fay, Courier Editor
Published: Wednesday, June 27th, 2012
A reconstruction project three years in the making will close the runways at the Glasgow International Airport for three weeks in July. Silver Airways will suspend service from July 9 through July 28, the estimated time needed to dig out and reconstruct the intersection of the airport’s two runways.
Air traffic is using the secondary runway while construction workers replace both ends of the main runway. When they reach the intersection at the center, all traffic will have to stop.
The main runway has not been completely replaced since it was first installed in 1942, when the Glasgow Army Air Field was built. In those 70 years, there have been numerous overlays but the runway is deteriorating underneath, according to project manager Lance Bowser, an engineer with Robert Peccia and Associates in Helena. He said workers are digging down 33 inches and will replace the old material with crushed gravel and asphalt.
The main runway, 12/30, is 5,000 feet long and 100 feet wide.
The $6.4 million project has been done under four Federal Aviation Administration grants, Bowser said. Most of the grants, totaling $4.7 million, were under a previous FAA bill that paid 95 percent of the cost, with a local match of 5 percent. The remainder is being done under the current FAA bill that requires a 10 percent local match. Valley County has also received a $153,000 grant from the Montana Aeronautics Division and some loan money. The local share of the cost of the runway project is $224,000, Bowser said.
“It’s a big undertaking for an airport,” Bowser said. “They need to keep the pavement in usable condition to keep their air carrier certificate.”
Glasgow's air ambulance service has made plans to move to Poplar for the duration of the closure. Clay Berger, program director of the Northeast Montana STAT Air Ambulance Cooperative, said there is a hangar there to protect their airplane and housing for the on-call staff of pilots and nurses. The Wolf Point airport is closer but has no hangar. Berger said Glasgow patients can be transported to Wolf Point by ground ambulance and meet the airplane there.
The three-week closure will put a bite on the income of the airport operator.
“Three weeks of fuel sales is a pretty big hit,” said Steve Stanley, the manager of Prairie Aviation in Glasgow. They will not be selling fuel to STAT Air, Silver Airways, the charter business or private pilots. The timing is not great, he said, because they will lose travelers on their way to the big air show in Oshkosh, Wisc.
He joked that he would have to find projects to keep the summer employees busy, like mowing the grass.
“It’s not as bad as it can be,” Stanley said. “When Wolf Point did reconstruction last year they were closed for three or four months and they only have one runway. We’re only closed for three weeks. It could be worse.”
He noted that hotels and other businesses in Glasgow will share in the downturn.
Silver Airways averages 200 passengers a month in Glasgow, Stanley said, so they stand to lose about 150 of them during this closure, but travelers can still fly Silver out of Wolf Point. The Silver Airways computer reservation system has blacked out Glasgow during the closure dates.
“On behalf of Silver Airways, I’d like to extend my sincere apologies to those passengers who will be inconvenienced by this temporary and unavoidable service interruption,” said Mickey Bowman, vice president of Essential Air Service for the airline. “In the long run, the capital improvements at Glasgow will only work to enhance the overall flying experience for our customers, who we’ll be ready to begin serving anew once the runway construction is completed.”
In a statement, Silver Airways announced it will suspend service to Glasgow commencing on July 9 following the 5:50 a.m. departure of flight #3561 from Glasgow to Billings and Helena. Subject to completion of the runway construction project, they plan to resume service to Glasgow on July 28 with the 3 p.m. arrival of flight #3569 from Billings. Silver Airways’ regular flight schedule connecting Glasgow to Billings, which consists of two daily flights on weekdays and once-daily service on Saturday and Sunday, is slated to resume July 29.
Silver Airways urges all customers holding reservations for flights to and from Glasgow during the July 9-28 period to call reservations at 406-228-8495 or 1-800-499-7450 for re-accommodations and additional information.
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