American Airlines will not operate flights out of Fort Smith Regional from Aug. 21 through Sept. 5 due to a planned construction project of repaving the airport’s main runway, said Michael Griffin, airport director. American Airlines service will resume normal scheduling Sept. 6.
“There is never a good time for this, but we tried to schedule it when it would be the least inconvenient,” Griffin said. “By picking a time after school starts back, we hoped the bulk of vacation travel would be finished.”
The good news, Griffin said, is this type of renovation is only needed about once every 20 years.
The runway project began about two weeks ago and is being conducted in phases to minimize air service interruptions. The restoration of the 8,417-foot-long runway is a $13 million project that will include asphalt overlay and milling, pavement marking, new lighting and signs and other work, Griffin has said.
The airport is paying for the majority of the work through federal grants and the 10% remaining, about $1.3 million, is coming from American Rescue Plan money for airports, Griffin said. The city’s airport is owned by an independent commission.
The repaving project will not disrupt any general aviation users, including corporate jets or private aircraft, because they can still utilize a smaller runway that will remain open, Griffin said. The only exception to that is from Sept. 1-5 when the intersection of the smaller runway and the main runway will be repaved, effectively closing both runways, he added.
Customers with tickets during these dates American will not be operational should be contacted by the airline. They also can contact American Airlines on its toll-free number, 800-433-7300, or at www.aa.com.
A planned $22 million extension of the primary runway at the Fort Smith Regional Airport necessary for the planned arrival of a foreign military pilot training center is not expected to result in commercial airline stoppages. That project is estimated to begin in May 2022.
Fort Smith Regional Airport is the third-largest commercial airport in Arkansas. Enplanements during the first six months of 2021 totaled 46,056, up from 39,969 during the same period in 2020, but well below the 87,977 in the same period of 2019. Enplanements at the airport in 2019 were up for the fourth straight year. Following are the previous seven years of enplanement totals.