Reno-Stead Airport Invests in New GA Building

May 3, 2013

Reno-Stead Airport (RTS), located in northern Nevada, about 14 miles northwest of Reno-Tahoe International Airport, is upgrading its Cold War-era general aviation (GA) infrastructure with a modern new facility.

On April 16 ground was broken on the $6 million, 12,000-square-foot replacement for its former general aviation building, and the new facility is slated for completion by the end of the year.

“Economic development is our buzzword,” said Tom Hall, president of the Reno-Stead Airport Association. “But we needed to replace the old manager’s office, and there was no emergency operations center on the field. So [construction of the new GA facility] really was driven by safety, and then as it’s grown it’s been economic development to the benefit of our tenants and the community.”

The investment also comes at a time when the Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority has been encouraging general aviation aircraft operators to make use of the Reno-Stead Airport, though both local airports welcome GA traffic.

“In recent years, the Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority has made efforts to relocate as much general aviation traffic as it can to Reno-Stead Airport,” said Stacy Howard, NBAA’s Western regional representative. “Part of the reason general aviation tenants were unwilling to relocate to that airport was because of the lack of facilities and space there. If Reno-Tahoe hopes to encourage general aviation to operate out of Reno-Stead, it needs to make these kinds of improvements.”

Reno-Stead Airport’s role as an important reliever airport was another impetus for the face lift, given that it previously had a double-wide trailer for a pilots’ lounge and former Stead Air Force Base buildings for office space.

“It’s a great reliever airport, and there’s a lot of industry around the airport, so [the new GA terminal] was something that was needed,” said Bob Meurer, president of the Reno-Tahoe Aviation Association.

The upgrade’s timing also overlaps with pending state legislation that would provide tax-abatement incentives for general aviation; SB 385 would reduce the taxes of a variety of aviation companies by limiting the partial personal tax abatement to 50 percent of the full tax, according to the Nevada Business Aviation Association (NVBAA), which is pushing state lawmakers to approve it. The bill was introduced on March 18 and approved in early April by the Nevada Senate Committee on Revenue and Economic Development.

NVBAA said in an April 25 statement that it is conducting a financial impact study with the aim of countering lost tax revenue projections by the Nevada Department of Taxation.

“It’s a big deal here,” said Hall, noting that he has heard the bill has a good chance of passing this term.

“As businesses grow and are able to take advantage of these abatements, I think the opportunities at Reno-Stead will grow as well,” Howard added.

The two-story building, being built by Q&D Construction of Reno and paid for by Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority bond funds, will include a pilots’ lounge with restrooms, meeting space, offices for the airport manager and his staff, an emergency operations center, and, potentially, a restaurant.

Construction won’t impact air traffic, as it’s all taking place landside, and temporary facilities will be available until the new building is complete.