Airport manager discusses progress since 2020 tornado

Airport manager discusses progress since 2020 tornado

JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - The University Heights Lions Club in Jonesboro heard about the Jonesboro Municipal Airport during their meeting Tuesday.

George Jackson, airport manager, was the guest speaker at the meeting.

Jackson began with a brief overview of the airport in general.

He said the airport sets on just under 1,000 acres of land with 400 acres being leased farmland.

Jackson said the airport typically has an inventory of 110 to 120 based aircraft but since the March tornado, the number is at 65.

He discussed the efforts to clean up after that tornado, highlighting the airport returning to operation four days after the storm hit.

The next goal was to get the remaining structures on the property to a place they could start generating revenue again.

“That was one of our main goals, as well as main concerns there,” Jackson said “Getting extra revenue back in all the businesses located out here.”

One of the businesses, Air Choice, was displaced for about a week, Jackson said, until they were able to get repairs to their main building after the tornado.

Jackson said there was a lot of debris at the airport from damaged homes and businesses around the area.

Another structure damaged by the tornado was a new hanger that was 90-percent complete. Jackson said it took the project to about 20-percent completion after the storm, but with grant money, they were able to open that hanger back up.

“It was just a big, a big mess that we’ve slowly straightened out. You throw a virus into the mix and that has not been an easy task,” Jackson said.

The airport also worked to get a $1.4 million airfield lighting grant for the airport. Jackson said the contractor has received a large portion of the equipment and some has been shipped. He said there was a delay in production and manufacturing of some of the materials due to COVID-19.

They hope to get started on that project soon.

There has also been an environmental study taking place at the airport for a possible runway strengthening project they hope to start in 2024.

Copyright 2021 KAIT. All rights reserved.