Collin County airport plans on landing commercial airlines

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by STEVE STOLER

WFAA

Posted on March 8, 2012 at 9:32 PM

McKINNEY - Collin County residents are being asked to get behind a gamble of more than $300 million.

The bet is that if the City of McKinney builds a terminal and long runway at Collin County Regional Airport, some airline will decide to make it a destination. But which airline, they don’t know.

It would cost $313 million. That would pay for a new runway and taxiway on the undeveloped, east side of the airport for commercial jetliners. A terminal would be built as well.

So, would the Collin County airport compete with Dallas Love Field?

"It would be terribly hard right now to compete with it," said airport executive Director Ken Wiegand. "But you never know. There are niche markets. There are new airlines that are going to be starting. I'm convinced of that."

Wiegand says American Airlines restructuring could open doors at the McKinney airport.

"They're going to drop service to certain communities," Wiegand said. "And there will be someone out there wanting to fill that gap. And perhaps, they'll want to save more money by coming to a smaller airport."

But not everyone shares the dream to spend millions to bring in commercial jetliners, especially Carl Thompson.

"I would be perfectly happy to see it stop growing, where it's at right now, until I'm gone," Thompson said.

The Thompsons live in a Fairview neighborhood where homeowners battled the airport for years with concerns about noise and even flocks of birds.

"The more airplanes they have, and the bigger the airplanes, the more noise we're going to be dealing with," Thompson said.

Right now, no one knows for sure if this will ever get built.

No negotiations have gone on between the airport or any commercial carrier. Public hearings, environmental studies and finding more than $300 million for the project still have to happen.

For now, it is just a plan that cost taxpayers $160,000.

E-mail sstoler@wfaa.com

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