Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport starts construction

From staff reports

This summer, the Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport (PMRA) will realign its runway and increase the parking lot’s size to meet higher demand for increased traffic.

The total construction cost at the airport is projected to be $119 million, with $300,000 to $400,000 going toward projects to expand the parking lot and move the baggage claim to a separate building.

The runway realignment is not actually part of growing the airport, but rather bringing the runway up to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) standards, to make sure commercial aircrafts can continue to land, PMRA Director Tony Bean said.

The airport was originally designed for 30-seat, not 76-seat aircrafts, so when Alaska Airlines began flying the Q400, the larger planes caused a change in the airport’s design standard, Bean said.

“Now, instead of being 200 feet from centerline-to-centerline for a taxiway and a runway, we need to be 400 feet,” he said.

The FAA authorized the modification to standard to take place, as long as the airport fixed this problem, Bean said. If PMRA decided not to fix the problem, the FAA would stop Alaska from being able to operate commercial airlines there.

“A loss of commercial air service … here would be extremely detrimental,” Bean said.

The airport needs to expand the parking lot to accommodate an increase of traffic, Bean said.

In 2016, 122,094 travelers flew in or out of PMRA, up from 99,745 in 2015. Both years were large increases from the 83,868 passengers in 2014.

The expanded parking lot will offer more space for passengers to park their cars during trips and provide more space for rental agencies to house their vehicles.

Currently, the car-rental agencies Avis, Budget, Hertz and Enterprise operate at the Pullman airport. With the changing parking lots, the rental cars will also be moving their locations.

Because of this, the agreements will be updated through a bid process, Bean said, since rental car agencies can competitively bid for space at the airport.

Another piece of the airport construction will take the baggage claim out of the current airport building and move it into a separate facility, he said.

Reporting by Haley Donwerth