LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — If you were thinking of booking a last-minute flight out of Blue Grass Airport this weekend, it won’t be possible. Air travel was suspended on Thursday at 6 p.m. and will remain so for 72 hours in order to complete a runway repaving project.
This project is mandated by the FAA every 12-15 years and the administration covers the cost, which in this case is estimated at 16 million dollars. Beginning work during the last week of August made the most sense based on the numbers.
“A lot of families have stopped doing leisure vacations because of back to school, and then we don’t have a lot of business travel now,” said airport communications director, Amy Caudill. “While there’s no great time to do it, this is certainly one of the better times of year,” she continued.
But there is an exception to that: we’re one week from the 15-year anniversary of the crash of Comair flight 5191. The plane clipped a fence during take-off and crashed killing 49 of the 50 people on board. Freshly painted runway markings were widely attributed to the pilot error that caused a taxi to the wrong runway.
“We are very sensitive to that because of timing,” Caudill noted. “We don’t want this project to bring up memories for those individuals who lost loved ones on that flight. We’re very sensitive to that, definitely.”
Roughly 1,500 passengers come through this airport each day, so that’ll be 4,500 fewer people to shop the stores, and dine in the restaurants so those vendors and their employees will take a hit during this period, but it’s not optional, so airport officials certainly appreciate the cooperation they’re getting from everyone impacted. It’s also not the kind of project that can be postponed due to inclement weather, so the cooperation that’s expected from above is also appreciated.
“This 72-hour project has been in the making for several years,” Caudill said while explaining how the airlines had to be the first to adjust, so not to make tickets available to and from Lexington during this three-day period.
The airport is scheduled to reopen on Sunday night at 6.