May 9, 2024 - News

Study says Peoria airport is feasible but it's a long road ahead

Illustration of a crane hook hoisting a pilot's wings pin.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

A recently concluded feasibility study projected that there's enough market demand to build a new airport in north Peoria, but there's a lot of years and additional steps before it can become a reality.

The big picture: Coffman Associates, the firm hired by the city to conduct the feasibility study, explained its findings to the Peoria City Council on Tuesday.

  • There's potential for 80 aircraft to be initially based at a Peoria airport, and that could increase to more than 200 within 20 years, Coffman's Eric Pfeifer told the council.
  • Pfeifer noted that 500 people are on the waiting list for hangar space at Phoenix Deer Valley Airport.

Zoom in: An analysis by Rounds Consulting Group estimated an airport would have at least a billion-dollar economic impact annually (which it touted as equivalent to hosting the Super Bowl every year) and would generate $60 million in state and local taxes.

What's next: The feasibility study is the first of six steps the city will go through, including a site selection study and an environmental study.

  • The entire process could take 7-10 years if the city follows FAA processes.

Friction point: Future studies will determine how much noise an airport would generate, a concern that some residents raised during the meeting.

  • The next steps will also determine whether an airport would create any conflicts with Luke Air Force Base.

By the numbers: The study projected that the project could cost about $150 million.

  • If the city follows FAA processes it would be eligible for federal grants that could cover as much as 90% of the cost.
  • The Arizona Department of Transportation could pay about $5 million.
  • The local share of the project could be an estimated $32.7 million.

Yes, but: Even if the project is eligible there's no guarantee it would get funding from the FAA's Airport Improvement Program.

Reality check: The study noted it's "very challenging" to estimate revenue and expenses for a new airport.

  • Coffman's analysis projected the airport could be financially self-sustaining within five years.
  • But the study noted that most general aviation airports aren't profitable, even ones that have operated for decades.

The bottom line: "It is the conclusion of this study that consideration of a new general aviation airport located in the north Peoria area is feasible," the report stated.

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