Cherry Capital Airport seeks governance change, terminal expansion, 400 new parking spots

Feb 5, 2020

 

The Cherry Capital Airport in Traverse City wants to simplify its operations. 

 

Three different boards currently run the airport  — the Grand Traverse Board of County Commissioners, the Leelanau Board of County Commissioners and the Northwestern Regional Airport Commission.

Airport officials want to switch that governance to one board under an airport authority. 

Legislation from 2015 called Act 95 paves the way for Cherry Capital to request such an authority, but it needs to be approved by the current entities that oversee the airport. 

“We’ve gone through all of 2019, studying different airport models that are within the state of Michigan, and what’s being proposed is under the Regional Airport Authority Act (Act 95), and that’s to form an airport authority,” said Airport Manager Kevin Klein. “The way we operate today and how an authority operates, they’re very similar.” 

A governance committee was formed to evaluate the pros and cons of an authority, and it found that an authority is the way to go, he said. 

All of this is happening in unison with the airport wanting to add 400 new parking spots and double the size of the terminal by adding six new gates and a boarding ramp. 

The expansion will take the number of gates from four to 10 and is slated to cost roughly $32 million. Funding will come from passenger facility charges, Federal Aviation Administration funding and revenue from the airport, says Klein.  

If that doesn’t cover the price tag, the airport will issue bonds.

In regards to the authority, some commissioners are concerned about the proposal. 

“I’m trying to wait and make up my mind, says Leelanau County Commissioner Patricia Soutas-Little.

She’s waiting to see the public comment and the business plan for the authority, which will be presented to Leelanau commissioners next week. 

The Grand Traverse County Commissioners are meeting with the airport Wednesday to go over the governance model and answer questions.