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All commercial airline traffic at AZO Airport closed for 16 days in June 2019

All commercial airline traffic at AZO Airport closed for 16 days in June 2019. (WWMT/Jason Heeres)

Summer travel may be impacted for some people planning to fly out of Kalamazoo because the Kalamazoo Battle Creek International (AZO) Airport is closing all commercial airline traffic for construction June 10-26, 2019.

The airport is repairing its main runway, 6,502 feet long. Airport administrators said the current runway has not been updated since 1998 and is nearing the end of its life.

“The most dangerous times in flight are takeoff and landing and when you land you want the runway to be in Good shape. I would much rather not be able to travel for two weeks than to be told when I go to land the runway isn’t safe,” said Richard Brasington, traveling to St. Louis.

“It makes sense to do it. I guess I don’t have any objection to it. I want it to have a good runway,” said Nancy Ford Charles, traveling from New York City.

Administrators said early estimates show about 1.5 percent of revenue could be lost for the month on June. Directors said their decision for that time period is their best option for weather, cost of renovations and shortest time for construction. They’re getting the word out now so people can plan ahead.

“I would definitely go to either Detroit, Grand Rapids or Chicago. Whatever’s convenient and scheduling and cost—it all plays a part in it,” said Randy Crusciel, traveling to Mexico.

“I will be happy to be slightly inconvenienced and it won’t be that much. It’s only two weeks after all,” said Ford Charles. “I suppose for business people that travel every week it will be a minor inconvenience.”

“Grand Rapids isn’t really on the other side of the world,” said Brasington.

A Federal Aviation Administration grant is funding 90 percent of the runway repairs. The State of Michigan is covering five percent and the airport paying for the remaining five percent. Runways for general aviation or private planes are expected to still be open for the majority of the closure.

The people that work at the airport won’t be out of a job. Administrators said their early plans show some people will have the choice to work at other airports, finish ongoing projects at the airport, continue office work or take the time off.

Directors said administrators are also starting future plans to extend the runway. Those ideas are in the early stages and could take a couple years before a decision is made. If the plans proceed, the extension would be 1,000 feet long and may require train tracks to be moved.

Directors said the extension would accommodate the growing size of airline fleet, giving bigger planes more room to land and take off.


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