By A.J. Kaufman, Managing Editor
As Tri-Cities Airport embarks upon an Airport Master Plan (AMP) to shape its next two decades, the local community participated in this transformative process with a public meeting the week before Thanksgiving.
Required by the Federal Aviation Administration, the AMP is designed to chart a course for the airport’s growth, while ensuring safety, efficiency, cost-effectiveness and environmental responsibility. It assesses various development options, aligning with the demand for aviation services and the interests of neighboring communities. Designed to guide future development, this plan is a collaborative effort between the airport, Tennessee Department of Transportation and the FAA.
The first public meeting — a critical opportunity for the community to learn about and actively shape their airport’s future — introduced the initial phase of the AMP, including the existing conditions inventory and forecast of operations for the airport. The Public Involvement Program component of this endeavor is focused on creating awareness and gathering input regarding the project findings. It is done through information sharing via open house events like what occurred on Nov. 15. It also encourages dialogue and collaboration between stakeholders and the planning team, whose efforts must align with the needs of stakeholders.
Airport brass deemed the gathering constructive, with attendees expressing important insights and lending collective feedback that leadership believes will contribute to the ongoing development of their AMP. Having completed the inventory phase, the airport has now advanced to detailed planning stages.
“The Tri-Cities Airport is working to set our infrastructure development plans for the next 5, 10 and 15 years. In doing this, we have to do a lot of work to not only try to predict the future, which is always difficult at best, but we also need to do our best to anticipate the needs of our community,” Tri-Cities Airport Authority Executive Director Gene Cossey explained to the Business Journal. “While we can look at trends in the aviation industry and in travel demands to make our predictions regarding needs, we really need feedback from the members of our region in order to have the greatest understanding of what our community expects. This, of course, means ideas such as where they would like to be able to have non-stop flights, but from a master planning perspective, it really means understanding how your demands on the aviation system will develop and grow in the near future. Help us by letting us know how your businesses plan to grow, how your demand for travel will change, and how your need for connectivity to the rest of the world will be shaping up in the next few years.”
The new AMP primarily centers around infrastructure development aimed at enhancing the overall airport experience. It involves a thorough analysis of current assets, projections for increased air traffic, and the identification of facilities required during the next 20 years.
“We encourage the public to stay engaged, as their perspectives will continue to shape a plan that reflects the community’s expectations for a modern, efficient, and forward-looking airport,” Tri-Cities Airport Marketing & Air Service Development Manager Trevor Rice added. “Public involvement remains pivotal even beyond the initial meeting. We invite continued engagement, whether through online channels, community forums, or feedback submissions. By actively participating, the public contributes to the ongoing refinement of the Master Plan, ensuring it aligns with diverse needs and aspirations.”
Tri-Cities Regional Airport recently marked its 86th year of existence.