Wow! Branson Airport opens in May of 2009. It doesn't seem possible that the airport is almost ready to open. It seems like construction just started and it all began in July of 2007. Planning began a long time before that because the land, 8,000 acres which was a farm owned by Tennessee Ernie Ford, was purchased by Glen Patch in 1990 and was used in part by his Branson Creek complex which is golf courses and resort/lodging facilities.
The construction of the airport which involved the flattening of several Ozark Mountains is claimed to be the largest earthmoving project in Missouri history and you can see the entire project from beginning to end on their construction camera by clicking on this link. They claim it is the first privately owned for-profit commercial airport in the United States. The City of Branson will pay $8.24 to Branson Airport LLC for each arriving visitor with an annual cap of $2 Million. That doesn't sound too private to me. About 37 million were private funds and the rest 117 million was from the issuing of bonds. It is said to have a Estimated cost 155 Million dollars.
To build a long straight level runway in a mountain area was a real engineering challenge. They had to knock the top off at least 3 mountains and fill in between with the material. The largest mining equipment in the country was called in for this task. From the start in July 2007 and May of 2008 11 million Cubic Yards of material was blasted and moved.
The Runway is 7,140 feet long and 150 feet wide. Plus the taxi lane and ramp area. They also had to build about 2.5 miles of road and 2 bridges about 80 feet high over canyons on the access road. The terminal is 58,000 square feet and can handle 1.4 million passengers a year. They also constructed a free standing Traffic Control Tower. The developer plans on construction of an 8,000-seat arena and 15,000-seat amphitheater near the airport and a hotel is planned by another developer a Mr. Hammons who built the St. Louis and Springfield Cardinal baseball stadiums.
There are 2 airlines so far committed to fly out of the new Branson Airport the first being Trans Air with flights planned to Atlanta and possibly Milwaukee and the other Sun Country with flights to Minneapolis and possibly Dallas. This new Transportation venue will really make it much easier to fly into Branson.
It appears Grayline will provide all surface transportation at the Branson Airport. There will be shuttle bus, cabs, car rental and limo.
The Springfield-Branson Airport just 40 miles north is also building a new terminal building. Wow that is sure a lot of money being spent by two cities that close together to compete with each other.
It will be interesting how it comes out especially being I worked with a Major Airline for 25 years in traffic and sales and I know something about the business. I think it will all depend how well the Branson Convention Center books it's conventions as folks will be more willing to fly in for a short stay if they can land within minutes of hotel and convention facilities that are all close so they don't have to have ground transportation.