LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — It’s hard for anyone to think about a repaving project at Blue Grass Airport without thinking of Comair flight 5191.
“We’re super sensitive to that, knowing that this is the 15-year anniversary,” said Amy Caudill the airport’s Communications Manager.
Flight 5191 crashed during takeoff in 2006, clipping a nearby fence, after the pilot had accidentally taxied to the incorrect runway. It happened soon after the airport’s last repaving project.
“It was determined the pilots missed some markings,” Caudill explained of that morning’s tragedy, which killed 49 of the 50 people on board.
15 years later, it’s time for the airport to resurface its runway once again. The Federal Aviation Administration mandates this type of work be done at all U.S. airports every 12-15 years.
"It’s a 16.2 million dollar project and 100 percent funded by the FAA,” Caudill said.
To accomplish the work, the airport will cease operations of all commercial and private aircraft for a 72-hour period beginning at 6 pm on August 19, running through 6 p.m. on August 22. The three-day closure will cost the airport roughly $100,000 in lost revenue, not including money generated by the facility’s many vendors such as restaurants, newsstands and parking garages. Even the Uber drivers will take a hit.
“This is my biggest draw,” said Rick Bate. As he was waiting for a passenger, Bate mentioned that he normally makes $100-110 per day on airport pick-ups alone.
“We all operate separately,” Caudill said of the losses each vendor will incur during this three day period.
“Our 7,000 foot runway can get you anywhere in the world, so we need to make sure it’s in perfect condition.”
The biggest inconvenience might come to those who’ve already booked travel during that time frame. If you fall into that category your carrier will be contacting you to discuss alternate routes. And Amy says you are certainly welcome to contact the airline on your own rather than waiting for their call.
Portions of the terminal will remain open for car rentals, and other services. The air and ground traffic control operators are also expected to work during the closure to assist with helicopter flights, and even oversee the painting of vital runway markings.
“The runway is the most important piece of infrastructure at an airport,” Caudill added.
Now it’s time for this airport’s runway to get a facelift.