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State of the Airport: Regional Growth, Trade Zones Important

The economic recession that hit the United States in 2008 created a downturn for most airports. However, investors of the Springfield-Branson National Airport were able to hear some good news about airline improvements Monday. KSMU’s Matthew Barnes reports.

Regionalization was a major topic of the State of the Airport presentation Monday. The address is a yearly update on the status of the airport.

Across the nation, airline expansion has seen better days.  Michael Boyd is an aviation consultant who participated in the presentation.

“It is slowing down this is for the first time. We’re used to having the air transportation system grow and grow and grow and grow. It’s not growing anymore; it's shrinking. The number of markets an airline can serve is over," said Boyd.

According to a recent Wall Street Journal study, the city of Springfield was ranked 3rd in national job growth in 2011. The Springfield-Branson National Airport hopes to help in continuing that trend.  Bryan Weiler is Director of Aviation for the Airport.

“Economic development and transportation go hand in hand,” says Weiler.

One of the major changes is the expansion of the area's Foreign Trade Zone to include 23 counties. According to Weiler, this will help businesses within the zone save money on product shipping tariffs.

“Let’s say I am a new manufacturer and I’m building ABC lawnmower. I buy parts A from Mexico, and I buy parts B from Canada, and I get parts C from the United States and I assemble all of that in the Foreign Trade Zone and I sell it to Europe. Technically that lawnmower never entered the United States. So it allows that company to compete on a global market place that we’re in today,” says Weiler.

Keeping cost down, competitive service and community support are some of the pillars at the heart of the airport's upcoming changes, Weiler said. The Springfield-Branson National Airport was one of the first to offer ground handling for airlines, he added.

“We when you go out to the airport and buy a ticket on Allegiant, or you see the bags being loaded, those are actually city employees that are doing that. And by us providing that service to them, it means that an airline can come into the Springfield market and not have to locate or bring in twenty people and spend a whole bunch of money to get geared up before they sell one ticket,” says Weiler.

Other goals for the airport in the coming year are to redevelop the old terminal, and to become more accommodating for private and business aircraft. 

However, with the expected growth of the airport, Boyd predicted that consumers will inevitably see ticket prices go up due to the increase in gas prices.

“Fares are going to go up. It’s going to get more and more expensive to fly that’s all there is to it. You can’t do much about it. It’s going to be like everything else,” says Boyd.

For KSMU News, I’m Matthew Barnes.