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Hubba Hubba.

Hubba Hubba

Next spring, a $50-million runway and navigation system at Little Rock Regional Airport will be completed. The new runway - the airport's fourth - will double capacity and permit simultaneous landings, as well as provide a valuable backup in bad weather.

The completion of this project will enable the airport to handle 2 million passengers a year and provide some new exciting services. Best of all, it opens the door to possibilities of great potential benefit to Arkansans in the form of new jobs and investment.

One of the possibilities is to aggressively pursue a major carrier who would use Little Rock for a hub. A hub is one way to further dramatically expand the state's air transportation system as well as its industrial base.

During the last decade, a number of other cities became hubs. Cincinnati was one of them. If you are heading north on Delta Airlines, there's a good chance you will stop in Cincinnati.

The Greater Cincinnati International Airport is accredited today with pumping more than $2.3 billion a year into the local economy, a number that is expected to climb to $3.3 billion by 1992.

The airport has created 5,000 jobs at the facility itself and another 19,000 jobs not directly related to the airport. Over the last 10 years, airport payrolls have doubled and construction expenditures over these same 10 years reached almost $220 million. The airport will spend another $180 million in the next three years.

Greater Cincinnati International Airport, which is a hub for Delta, contributes significantly to the transportation system and the industrial base of the region, and it is a major inducement in attracting new industry to the state.

These are goals to which Arkansas should aspire, and I think are attainable.

Thanks to the scheduled completion of the new runway in the spring, the Little Rock Regional Airport is on its way to doing what it takes to qualify as a hub.

Favorable Atmosphere

As major hubs become increasingly burdened with traffic, carriers, in search of greater efficiency, are turning to smaller hubs to "gather" passengers together for common destinations. Little Rock has a great deal to offer carriers considering additional hubs.

Interestingly enough, Little Rock has the weather on its side, according to a report recently provided the commission. The airport here is far less apt to require navigational equipment-aided landings and takeoffs than seven comparable hubs which were studied.

Top Priority

Beyond its commitment to the continued growth of the airport, the airport commission is also committed to infrastructure growth and has sought to encourage the burgeoning industrial complex surrounding the facility.

Over the last decade, for example, three outstanding aircraft modification and aircraft assembly tenants have significantly expanded their influence. Falcon Jet Corp., Arkansas Modification Center and Sky Travel Avionics employ 1,400 craftsmen and avionics experts in the service of an international constituency.

As we establish our priorities for developing economic growth in Arkansas in the months and years ahead, the opportunity of an airport hub must take a place at the head of anyone's list as an event which would thrust Arkansas aggressively into the 21st century.

John Flake is chairman of Flake & Co., as well as a member of the Little Rock Regional Airport Commission.
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Title Annotation:new runway places Little Rock Regional Airport as economic, transportation hub
Author:Flake, John
Publication:Arkansas Business
Date:Oct 22, 1990
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