COVINGTON, Ga. - The Covington Municipal Airport could see an extension and
expansion to its runway after Gov. Nathan Deal announced his plan to provide
additional aviation funding to 11 counties, including Newton County, this year.
City Manager Leigh Anne Knight said Deal plans to earmark an extra $25 million for aviation-related projects. In order to capitalize on the money, the city was already working on plans to widen the runway and will now add the extension of the runway to that project.
Airport Manager John King said there is a required 25 percent match from the city for the funds.
“Basically, we could get about a $4 million project done, we could pay about a million dollars and get all that work done,” Knight said. “John and I thought that was a great return on investment.”
Knight asked the Covington City Council for a consensus during its work session last week to move forward with the plans to not only expand, but also extend the runway at the airport to utilize the extra funds. King said he would be able to provide a definite cost number to the council at its next meeting.
“The other reason that it is imperative that we know that (the consensus) is because we will, as soon as the contract documents come back to us, if you all are in favor of this, we’ll have to amend the budget because this work has to be started before June 30 of this year, so it’s a little bit of a time crunch for us to get all of this done,” she said.
King said right now the airport is considered to be at a B-2 category. The expansion and extension could allow for more traffic at the airport, which could move it to a C-2 category.
“By lengthening and widening our runway, we can get larger jets in, bigger jets with more fuel loads,” he said.
“They have already done some studies on our airport and we are missing out on opportunities of people landing here, one because of our runway length and two because of our width of our runway,” Knight said. “Many of the insurance carriers will not let, even though our runway is long enough, they will not let the plane land there because it isn’t 100 feet wide so their insurance carrier says ‘You can’t land because you don’t have this much space.’”
Knight said if this opportunity is passed up, she has no idea when funding will be available again for runway expansion and extension.
“It might be two years before we can get that money,” she said. “Because, as you know, we don’t do the project until there’s funding available for us to do it with.”
The council provided a unanimous consensus for the city staff to continue to move forward with drafting contracts for an expansion and extension to utilize the state funds.