The Lehigh-Northampton Airport Authority hosted an open house Thursday to introduce the public to the master plan update process which will take the next 18 months. The master plan outlines a 25-year development plan and program that maintains a safe, efficient, financially sound and sustainable airport facility.
The event detailed several exhibits showing information from the regional context, inventory of facilities and preliminary aircraft forecasts. Authority staff and consultants were present to educate attendees on the information and encourage them to leave comments regarding the project.
“This is a comprehensive study of the short, medium and long term to meet the aviation demand,” said Charles Everett, executive director of LNAA.
It’s been an ongoing process and Everett said the authority is about six months into its plan and projects that phase two of the project is slated to start around this time next year.
“We’re waiting on approval of the plans from the FAA [Federal Aviation Administration] before we can start the second phase,” he said.
The event had stations that outlined the plan, including the master plan process, inventory of existing conditions, regional context, forecast of aviation demand, airport and project information.
The plan was last updated in 2004 and the goal of the new plan includes providing guidance to satisfy demand in a financially feasible and responsible manner, while at the same time addressing the aviation, environmental and socio-economic issues of the community and region as they relate to Lehigh Valley International Airport.
Officials said the airport has been working with local businesses to see what the demands are, and then talk to different airlines to see what options might be available.
J. Michael Dowd, chairman of the board of governors for LNAA, who helped spearhead the project, said that in the next ten years the airport expects to see a four percent increase in air travel at the airport.
The airport has been tracking data, along with the FAA, to project the growing demand and to develop ideas of how to best accommodate for the growth in the coming years.
The planning process is set to continue through 2017 and be completed during the first quarter of 2018.
A second public workshop is slated for September.