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Airport on the grow
October 24, 2011
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  • By Isaac Babcock
    October 20, 2011

    Orlando Sanford International Airport will be able to take on planes with larger loads and possibly more of them after a planned $10 million expansion goes through.

    The airport was awarded a $10.6 million federal grant to buy land to expand the airport’s main runway, Congressman John Mica announced Sept. 29.

    As chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Mica helped lead the push for the Federal Aviation Administration grant money for the airport.

    That land purchase grant will help the airport to gobble up eight different parcels of land totaling more than 33 acres to the east of its largest runway, clearing the way for larger, quieter, more efficient airplanes to land in Sanford rather than Orlando International Airport, Mica said.

    “By acquiring the land to improve and expand the runway at the airport, we can bring in newer quieter passenger aircraft and generally improve safety,” Mica said in a released statement. “This will further allow us to expand business and economic activity at the airport, creating more jobs for the region.”

    The airport currently spreads across more than 2,000 acres of land, with four runways servicing commercial air traffic and a flight school. Runway 9L/27R, the longest and widest of the airport’s runways at 9,600 feet long by 150 feet wide, will be expanded to 11,000 feet with the help of the grant.

    “It allows the planes to have heavier loads, which allows more commerce at a lesser cost,” Sanford Mayor Jeff Triplett said.

    Construction is slated to begin in October 2012.

    Orlando Sanford International has expanded dramatically since 1995, when it first began offering scheduled commercial airline service.

    That year the airport carried 48,186 passengers, 2,219 of whom were on international flights. In 2008, the airport peaked at 1.84 million passengers, 765,581 of them arriving from abroad. By 2010 that number had fallen to 1.17 million passengers.

    Orlando Sanford International Airport President Larry Dale said that the longer runway, along with other expansion plans, will help to improve the airport’s economic impact – which he said totals $2.3 billion annually – in the area.

    “I think as the airport continues to grow, it’ll overall benefit not only Sanford and Seminole County but also Central Florida,” Dale said.

    Oviedo-Winter Springs Regional Chamber of Commerce President Cory Skeates is already thinking ahead to the kind of role the airport could play in developing the area’s economic future.

    He’s been in talks to bring European business investors via charter planes through Orlando Sanford International to entice them into developing businesses along the Seminole Way corridor on State Road 417.

    “We figured why not tap into Orlando Sanford as a conduit to bring in some of that business,” Skeates said.

    Date: 2011-10-20