Millions in federal dollars touch down at Elkhart airport

Truth file photo $5.9 million in federal funds are expected to pay for improvements to the Elkhart Municipal Airport from 2020 to 2025. Airport director David Pixey said the airport brings in millions in business every year.

ELKHART —  The FAA has agreed to invest an additional $5.9 million in the Elkhart Municipal Airport between 2020 and 2025, city offiicials said this week.

Outgoing Mayor Tim Neese said this week that federal investment in the Elkhart Municipal Airport will continue for years to come.

Over the past four years, the airport has received nearly $3 million in grants from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) aimed at improving both safety and navigation. Neese said he is pleased to announce that the investments are anticipated to continue for another six years.

The $5.9 million will go toward the final phase of the replacement of the airport’s 40-year-old perimeter fence as well as runway and taxiway lighting and pavement improvements. 

Airport director David Pixey said that the repaired fence, which will be 10 feet high, should last another 40 years. The repair is necessary, he said, because wildlife has been getting inside the fence.

The runway that will be repaved was last paved around 1980, according to Pixey.

“The airport is the gateway to our community, and I’ve got to make it easy for people to come and go from Elkhart,” he said. “They’re here to do business.”

The funding is part of the FAA’s Airport Improvement Program that provides grants to public agencies – and, in some cases, to private owners and entities – that are significant to national air transportation.

For the Elkhart Municipal Airport improvements, the FAA’s $5.9 million contribution is anticipated to cover 90 percentof the costs, while both the Indiana Department of Transportation and the City of Elkhart would pay 5 percent, equaling $328,121 each. 

“I believe this continued commitment, on the part of the FAA, speaks to the rapport our administration has built with federal and state partners as well as the emphasis we have placed on increasing utilization of the airport, both for conventional and unconventional purposes,” Neese said. “While we strived to attract additional aviation clients to the airport, we also worked to appeal to the average citizen, hosting events such as Fly-In Drive-In Movie Nights and Young Eagles. By increasing the visibility of the airport and highlighting the asset it is here locally, others have also taken notice.”

Earlier this year, the Elkhart City Council approved spending $565,000 to repair an airplane parking ramp that was installed for about a tenth of that cost in 2018 but became so soft over the summer that the wheels of two jets sank into the pavement. The repair will happen in the upcoming spring.  

Follow Rasmus S. Jorgensen on Twitter at @ReadRasmus

(2) comments

Joe King

With all the repair work and grants, I hope they also raise the monthly rents to recoup some of the cost the "average citizen" has pay for the "above average citizen's" planes and jets . The only event the "average citizen" gets to enjoy at no cost is the car sales event.....

fire111

I love it when Joe posts! An airport is where airplanes take off and land! Correct Joe? What "events" would you expect. Rock concerts maybe? Now that you have insinuated the wealth card, (planes and jets), I'm wondering! If there are ANY private jets there! I know there are corporate jets and a charter jet company! But ya know Joe the airport shouldn't be losing money! It' a City department!! I leave ya with this message in 2012 from the Aviation Assoc. of Indiana. Elkhart's airport's economic impact is $197 million annually! More than1520 jobs would not exist! Imagine what that amount is in todays economy!

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