After the first of the year, the Clinton National Airport will begin requesting qualifications from developers for a potential hotel on airport property as well as a gas station and convenience store.
Executive Director Ronald Mathieu told the commissioners at the October monthly meeting Tuesday morning that over the past few months, the airport had received several unsolicited inquiries about projects on currently undeveloped land owned by the airport just off Roosevelt Road. Since a hotel is part of the long-range plan for the airport, he suggested the commission authorize a more formal process to see what options are available.
Mathieu suggested opening up the RFQ in December and begin sorting through bids by February. But Commissioner Bob East expressed concern about the pace of the project, though he acknowledged his term would be expired before any decisions were made about the project. By verbal agreement, at the suggestion of Vice Chair Virgil Miller, the commission decided to wait until after the holidays when new 2016 members would be seated to proceed.
Mathieu stated that hotels who have spoken to staff have expressed more interest in picking up the Interstate traffic from the exit off I-440 than the airport traffic, but hoped to find a proposal that would take into account the airport’s long-term needs as well as offer another non-flight revenue stream.
For the second month in a row, the number of total passengers in the airport was up compared to the same month last year. There were 186,965 travelers in October 2015, up 1,708 from October 2014 or 0.92%. However, the airport is still down in overall passengers for the year by 5.2%.
American Eagle (29.995), Southwest Airlines (26.81%) and Delta Airlines (25.64%) held the majority of the market share in October.
Miller said he was “excited” about the rising number of passengers. T.J. Williams, Director of Air Service Development, told the commission that weather was better in September and October of this year than last, causing fewer cancellations and the airlines were flying larger planes with more passengers, which accounts for the slight uptick.