The San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport is currently working on a 20-year master plan, as required by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which will ensure safety standards are met and future projects are funded.
The airport has broken its previous record by serving 553,425 passengers in 2022, compared to 544,755 in 2019.
The airport aims to upgrade from a Group 2 to a Group 3 airport to accommodate larger aircraft. While the 6,100-foot runway will not be expanded, the airport may relocate the air traffic control tower to create more space on the apron, which would enable commercial airlines to accommodate larger aircraft.
The airport is also considering closing runway 7-25 due to its lack of utilization, which would create additional room for hangars, and it is estimated that the airport’s master plan will cost approximately $200 million.
According to Courtney Pene, the Deputy Director of Planning and Outreach at the San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport, the airport is excited about the master plan update because it provides a 20-year roadmap into the future. It recognizes the airport’s crucial role in the region’s prosperity, and completing the master plan is a commitment to the region that it will operate to its highest potential.
While the general aviation community does not seem to be affected by the runway closure, Don Ernst, a pilot, and owner of the charter airline MarcAir, is concerned about funding for the airport expansion. He hopes that the cost of the airport expansion will not be borne by the traveling public and general aviation pilots. However, Pene said that 90% of the funding for the master plan would come from the FAA, and the remainder would be from the airport.
The airport aims to gain approval from the Airport Land Use Commission this spring before seeking approval from the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors.
The airport’s efficiency and good signage make it easy to navigate, and it is well-managed, safe, and secure. The master plan update is necessary to ensure that the airport can accommodate larger aircraft and continue to meet safety standards while operating to its highest potential.