General Aviation terminal at Springfield-Branson National Airport may get enlarged, renovated

Published: Apr. 25, 2022 at 6:36 PM CDT|Updated: Apr. 25, 2022 at 6:55 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - It’s part of the Springfield-Branson National Airport that most general public never sees. The General Aviation terminal is an essential part of the airport’s connection to the community and the business world.

So now there are plans to upgrade it.

The main terminal at the Springfield-Branson National Airport, where commercial flights depart-and-arrive from was opened in 2009 and still has the look of a modern facility with plenty of space.

But on the other side of the airport is the home of the General Aviation terminal, where private jets and chartered flights come and go. Built in 1990, that facility is much older and less than flashy, with space so tight that some service employees have to hang out in their vehicles or a cramped modular building attached to the terminal.

That’s why airport officials are looking at $5.9 million worth of renovations and additions to General Aviation. Fewer passengers use this terminal. Celebrities and significant corporate executives use the terminal.

“If a big entertainer comes to Springfield, they’re probably not going to fly on a commercial airline,” explained Kent Boyd, the Public Information and Marketing Manager for the Springfield-Branson National Airport. “They’re probably going to come through this building on a private airplane.”

“Then you have the Bass Pro, the Costco, the Menards, the Dallas Cowboys,” added Jessica Robinson, the General Aviation Manager. “Those are people that come through here on a regular basis. They may be coming through to see if they want to start a business here, and I think we’re their first impression as to what they think of Springfield.”

“Any big business that’s been built in this town in the last 30-40 years, there’s a lot of planning that goes on beforehand,” Boyd said. “And when those people come from their corporate offices to Springfield, they come through this building before they build that big development. So it really is an economic hub and the place where you want to make a good impression which quite honestly is why we think it’s important to do this. We want to make a good impression on those business movers and shakers who are coming to town to invest in the community.”

In addition, General Aviation is the fixed base operation (FBO) of the airport, providing many of the facility’s services. FBO accounts for about 12 percent of the entire airport’s revenue.

“We sell fuel, we do catering and rental car reservations for people,” Robinson said. “We’re really a one-stop-shop for anyone in the business community who wants to see Springfield. I don’t know that people understand that the airport has its own business side. Most other cities usually have a third-party company that runs the airport business and then pays them a certain percentage of their sales. We run our own and are very fortunate to have that opportunity.”

“The bottom line is if we didn’t make as much money here (in General Aviation), that means we’d have to charge, for example, the airlines more money,” Boyd added. “And that might mean a higher fare for the public.”

The renovations and additions will address the cramped staff and passenger areas, provide a multipurpose room for companies to have meetings, and bring one of Robinson’s most wanted changes to lights and new bathrooms.

“We currently have quite a few issues with those like back-ups and stuff like that,” she said. “That does not help with making a good first impression.”

The airport hopes to have the new facility completed by the end of next year, but with the uncertain world we’re living in these days, it’s not a project that’s set in concrete yet.

“The instability of the economy and prices going up could increase the costs where we’d have to make changes to our plans,” Boyd pointed out. “Because of the supply and labor shortages, when I talk about uncertainty and the fact that this isn’t quite a done deal yet, those are the kind of things I’m talking about.”

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