Study envisions growth in demand at Platteville airport

Platteville airport open house

WHEN: 5 to 6 p.m., Monday Dec. 13

WHERE: Platteville Municipal Airport, 5157 Wisconsin 80/81, Platteville.

DETAILS: The Airport Commission of the City of Platteville is hosting an open house and will be present to answer questions and solicit feedback regarding the facility’s proposed master plan.

PLATTEVILLE, Wis. — Officials studying the 20-year outlook of the Platteville Municipal Airport envision a facility that will serve the needs of the area’s business and general aviation community.

A recent study concluded that the long-term aviation outlook in the region is favorable. Additionally, the study found that future demand increases in Platteville depend on residential and business growth.

Yet it found that the airport does not experience enough medium-size aircraft traffic to qualify for federal or state grants that could finance a runway extension that would accommodate business jets.

The analysis presents a proverbial chicken or egg conundrum for planners.

“It’s hard to prove that people will come and use something that you don’t have yet,” said Alaine Olthafer-Lange, co-owner of A&A Aviation, which provides operations and management, flight instruction and aircraft maintenance at the airport.

Platteville’s airport has two runways, and on average, 56 aircraft conduct operations at the airport daily.

Twenty-one registered aircraft are based there, including two jets. The study projected that 38 aircraft will be based in Platteville by 2039.

Since 2020, a city commission has been developing a master plan, which includes recommendations for the facility’s growth, including lengthening its existing 4,000-foot runway, increasing the pavement strength, expanding hangar and fuel storage capacity, installing perimeter fencing and adding parking.

No cost estimates were developed in the master plan because the price of materials is likely to change in ensuing years.

The commission is hosting an open house on Monday, Dec. 13, to obtain public feedback on the plan.

Analysis indicated that the facility did not experience sufficient traffic to qualify for state and federal grants that could finance up to 90% of runway extension costs, but having a plan means the facility could benefit from other funding opportunities, including the recently approved federal infrastructure bill.

And the airport is fortunate to already own the land where an expansion would be constructed.

Platteville Common Council President Barb Daus, who previously served on the airport commission, said an extension could attract new businesses to the city.

“Let’s say you have a business that wants to fly in and out, they really can’t in Platteville,” she said.

The availability of air travel can become a deal-breaker.

Local airports generally are “tucked out in the country somewhere,” Olthafer-Lange said, “but it really plays a large role in the economic health and growth of an area.”