Love Field renaissance could help McKinney airport grow

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by JOBIN PANICKER

Bio | Email | Follow: @jobinpnews

WFAA

Posted on May 14, 2014 at 10:25 PM

Updated Wednesday, May 14 at 11:08 PM

McKINNEY — As Dallas Love Field opens two new gates to Virgin America, other, smaller airports are salivating at opportunities to grow.

McKinney National Airport placed a billboard along the Dallas North Tollway that reads: “The time is Wright,” referring to the repeal of the Wright Amendment that mandated flight restrictions at Love Field.

“I think everyone’s looking at the opportunities of the Wright Amendment repeal,” said Ken Wiegand, executive director of McKinney National Airport. He believes the repeal will spur more commercial activity — and possibly push out corporate entities and general aviation partners. He said there’s been a trend of that happening across the country.

“The companies that own the aircraft don’t want to be waiting in lines behind commercial aircraft and other business aircraft for that matter,” Wiegand said.

Chad Bray has been flying for 35 years, and is happy to have a spot on the tarmac at McKinney National Airport. But he says he would be happier if he had more company, and says it could be cheaper for him.

“If there’s more fuel volume, chances are the prices kind of come down,” Bray said.

McKinney is attempting to lure more corporate partners, and Wiegand said he’s received interest from four entities recently, but would not divulge who... and from where.

The airport director says he can only speak for McKinney, but says with a new runway that was installed in December 2012; a new name that incorporates the word “National”; and plenty of green space; the facility is primed for making the big leap.

“The tenants are going to weigh their situations, and if it gets crowded, we would welcome them up here as opposed to going anywhere else,” Wiegand said.

But it seems the big catch would be getting Toyota as it plans to move its U.S. headquarters from California to Plano. Wiegand will admit there has been a little communication with the automaker, but nothing serious.

He said McKinney is taking steps to make a pitch to Toyota in the near future.

Representatives with Dallas Love Field say they do not anticipate a mass exodus of its general aviation partners. A rep says the city's airport has plenty of space to accommodate everyone.

E-mail jpanicker@wfaa.com

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