Portland Jetport plan outlines projects worth $312M

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PORTLAND — A $312 million Portland International Jetport Sustainability Master Plan is getting final revisions before heading to city councilors in early April for a workshop.

“I think this one codifies what had naturally started to build in the community, the administration and stakeholders,” Jetport Director Paul Bradbury said Feb. 25 of the plan that would guide airport growth over the next 20 years.

The costs are adjusted for inflation, and some spending is contingent on whether Congress approves an increase in ticket surcharges within the next couple of years, Bradbury said.

The Jetport is a busy place these days, with some airlines – including Southwest and Elite – adding stops, a $75 million terminal expansion completed five years ago, and $8.1 million in private investment in the last year.

Fixed base operators MAC Air Group and Northeast Air are expanding sales, charter and service operations on both sides of the main runway. Inland Technologies International  has invested $1.6 million to recapture de-icing fluid used on planes and now accepts de-icing fluid from airports as far away as New Jersey.

“We will be first in the U.S. that can take a recycled fluid, reprocess it on site and make it an FAA-approved fluid for reuse. It will not have to be trucked off site,” Bradbury said.

The master plan contains a study that concluded the Jetport provided $1.04 billion in economic benefits to the state in the fiscal year from July 1, 2014, through June 30, 2015.

“I knew it would be large, but I didn’t expect it to break $1 billion, it shows how important we are to the region,” Bradbury said.

The study concluded Jetport operations help sustain more than 8,200 jobs paying a total of nearly $270 million. It projects long-term growth to reach $1.4 billion in economic benefits in the next 20 years.

The Jetport has also enhanced its sustainability by reaching the gold certification for the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, known by its LEED acronym, for the terminal expansion, and by finding methods to heat and cool parked aircraft so aircraft engines can be shut off.

The master plan calls for a 20 percent reduction in 2013 greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 and a 30 percent reduction from 2013 levels by 2030. But Bradbury said the sustainability concept is taken beyond an environmental approach.

“It is not just green, it is how we interact with stakeholders, community and governance models,” he said.

The plan covers all facets of Jetport operations and maintenance, including repairs and resurfacing of runways, and reconstructing the taxiways used by cargo planes.

Revenue projections from the current amount of $20.8 million are anticipated to increase to almost $25.4 million in 2025, but much of the funding for capital improvement projects is expected to come from Federal Aviation Administration grants.

Bradbury said the federal ticket surcharge increase is integral to revenue projections. Commercial airlines have increased profits with a la carte charges like added baggage fees, while airports still get 11 cents from each $4.50 ticket surcharge.

The Jetport earns revenue from parking, rental cars and leases from restaurants as well.

“We are more like a movie theater, we make money off popcorn and soda, we don’t make money off the ticket price,” Bradbury said.

David Harry can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or dharry@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidHarry8.

De-icing planes away from the terminal and recapturing the fluids is one method of sustainability developed at the Portland International Jetport.

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Portland City Hall reporter for The Forecaster. Baltimore native, lived in Maine since 1989. A journalist since 2005, covering much of Cumberland and York counties. I joined The Forecaster in 2012.