May 7, 2020

Flight activity is down worldwide as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which means lower revenue for airports, as many rely on taxes from fuel sales.

Arkansas’ North Little Rock Municipal Airport (ORK) is the latest airport to feel the pinch of decreased fuel sales and government funds. Consequently, the airport has scaled back an expansion project. The Aeronautics Division of the Arkansas Department of Commerce recently decided not to provide a $600,000 grant for the project while the airport’s future revenue is unknown.

The ORK expansion project – originally budgeted for $5.5 million – was to include a restaurant, new general aviation center, 15,000-square-foot business aircraft hangar and expanded aircraft parking, among other things. The project was scaled back to $3.6 million, shelving the restaurant and paring back other areas, and now will be cut further.

The airport manager, Clay Rogers, reportedly hopes that at least part of the project will proceed later this year.

A local newspaper quotes Rogers as saying, “We’ve got some curveballs we weren’t expecting. The state still likes the project. They still are willing and wanting to give us some help.”

The expansion project’s overall future is in question, but the project might now be pursued in a phased approach to adapt to decreased funding availability.