WASHINGTON, D.C. — If you've never flown into or out of Barkley Regional Airport in McCracken County, you still benefit from the airport. That's because it's one of only a handful of regional airports in Kentucky.
Business leaders and others who have a hand in growing the local economy and creating jobs use that airport. Paducah Area Chamber of Commerce President Sandra Wilson shares that message routinely.
"I love the quote that the aviation, retired aviation commissioner, said recently. Even if you never step foot in Barkley Regional Airport, you are benefiting from having an airport here," Wilson said.
However, the facility isn't what it used to be, and upgrades will costs millions. And, considering the small airport has a big economic impact of roughly $43 million region wide, leaders say it's wise to invest in the building.
"Our terminal there is 65 years old. It's antiquated. We can't even add some of the modern infrastructure for security or amenities that people want now when they fly in and out," Wilson said.
Built in 1953, the facility suffers from many issues related to materials and methods used in construction during that time period. In 2018 alone, 41,835 passengers traveled through the airport, and it currently serves passengers in a 100-mile radius.
To fund a new terminal, federal money is needed from the FAA, which is part of the Department of Transportation. The total cost of the project will be determined when design work is completed. Right now, the FAA will fund at a 95% rate all grant-eligible portions of the project from the Airport Improvement Program Trust Fund. Those monies are collected from airline, passenger and cargo taxes. The remaining cost will need to be funded from local sources, as well as, state and other federal grants.
During the chamber's D.C. Fly-in key leaders will discuss ongoing efforts to secure federal money for a new terminal at Barkley Regional Airport.