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The Santa Barbara Airport is gearing up for future projects and long-term goals by updating its Master Plan. The airport’s last update was in 2017, and now, it is time for a new plan as the airport experienced a record year in 2021, with over 1.2 million passengers. This news comes from Airport Director Chris Hastert, who said that the airport has fully recovered from the pandemic downturn and is as busy as ever.
As a small hub with four commercial airlines, Santa Barbara Airport mainly provides flights for passengers from the local community and tourists visiting the Central Coast. Smaller planes and private pilots also use the facility. The Airport Master Plan aims to identify future projects and long-term goals, and it considers how many aircraft will be utilizing the airport, the number of passengers flying in and out of the airport, and the number of take-offs and landings. This information is used to ensure that the airport’s facilities can handle the traffic volume adequately.
With passenger traffic increasing, Hastert emphasized the importance of considering safety and security issues and improving the passenger experience. Failure to plan ahead can lead to long lines or insufficient parking. Capital improvements required by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), such as changes to runway design or taxiing protocol, are usually funded by FAA grants. However, updates to enhance passenger services depend on the airport’s budget. Hastert noted that the airport is an enterprise fund, generating revenues through rents, fees, landing fees, fuel flowage fees, and other similar sources, and does not take any general fund monies from the city or property taxes.
Hastert and his team are still gathering information for the Master Plan updates, and the community is invited to participate in the process by staying informed and providing comments. Public involvement is essential as the airport considers the future of Santa Barbara Airport.