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Cape Cod Gateway Airport Finalizes 20-Year Master Plan and Rebrand

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Patrick Flanary
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Cape Cod Gateway Airport expects to roll out its rebranding by early next year.

Four times as many people in the U.S. boarded flights this summer than last summer, but COVID continues to affect our travel plans.

Flights are still down from before the pandemic, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

Cape Cod Gateway Airport in Hyannis is feeling that impact, as it finalizes a federally required 20-year master plan. It includes rolling out a new name, extending a runway, and becoming "a regional transportation leader," Airport Manager Katie Servis told Patrick Flanary on Morning Edition.

Patrick Flanary: Could we get a sense of passenger traffic this summer versus last summer? People were much more eager to travel this year. Did that reflect reality?

Katie Servis: It did and it didn't. We've had a lot of corporate aircraft utilizing the airport on a more regular basis than we've seen in previous years. A lot of that does have to do with Covid. Many, many airports saw an increase in corporate travel, as people decided to get on a smaller aircraft. But commercial aircraft did see an uptick. We've seen that here, but not to the extent that Logan or Providence Airport would have seen.

PF: The airport makes its money from fuel sales, lease fees, and ticket taxes. It doesn't take any money from the town of Barnstable, which owns the airport. Generally, how was revenue this summer?

KS: We've seen an increase in our fuel sales over the past year. The airport really has to make a conscious decision to make revenue from other sources that are not necessarily always tied to aviation. One way we've identified is to lease out our 27-acre parcel. That's one example of being able to cover our operating expenses.

PF: And another one of those revenue streams would be the federal coronavirus grant money that helps cover operating expenses and retain airport employees. How has the CARES Act helped?

KS: Those funds were greatly needed, because airports across the nation were down 99 percent in terms of passenger throughput. So you're not getting parking revenues. You don't have passengers who are renting vehicles. So, yes, the CARES Act funds help us to cover the operating budget, but it also allows you to implement economic incentive projects. Sometimes that's not always readily available for an airport to have that extra cash to implement projects like that, and the CARES Act is helping us do that.

PF: Tell me about the runway extension. There are folks divided over this.

KS: The community has a lot of concerns about additional noise at the airport. We said, let's take a look at what it would look like to balance that runway extension so that we are making sure that we're getting what the airport needs from an operational standpoint, but we're lessening the impact -- if at all possible -- to the community. So we came up with the runway extension. What it allows for is an aircraft to have more pavement to use for takeoff.

PF: When was the last time the FAA met with the airport? I understand it's part of the process as you develop the master plan, which is a broad vision for the airport.

KS: We've worked with them over the past two years, and they review all the information that we looked at to identify projects that may be needed over the 20-year period. And then we step into the next planning documentation, which is the environmental assessment.

PF: That takes two years, is that right?

KS: We will be starting the local portion of that assessment in the December/January timeframe. And yes, that's about a two-year period once we start the local process. That means making sure we have the local permits that we need for those short-term projects.

PF: What does Cape Cod Gateway Airport need most?

KS: We really have four different goals: Maximizing general-aviation activity; diversifying our revenue stream; becoming a regional transportation leader; and changing our image and branding, and changing the name of the airport.

PF: And how soon before I see a new sign outside the terminal?

KS: That should be coming soon, and we will be putting out an invitation for bid shortly, to get all of the access-road signs changed within the next couple of months.