By A. Lee Graham
Fort Worth Meacham Airport could receive a $14.5 million terminal makeover as the venerable air hub undergoes significant renovations following the addition of a new tenant. “This is a transitional time for this airport, a truly once-in-a-lifetime occurrence,” said Bill Welstead, the city’s aviation director. Explaining the proposed facelift at the pre-council portion of the April 16 City Council meeting, Welstead emphasized the need to continue the momentum spurred by American Aero Fort Worth after the fixed-base operator last year moved into facilities formerly occupied by Atlantic Aviation. American Aero also plans to renovate the hangar originally occupied by American Airlines and constructed in 1933. It’s a project that Welstead says affirms American Aero’s commitment to the airport as it plans to construct a fixed-base operation set for completion later this year. A fixed-base operator is a business operating on airport grounds and providing aircraft maintenance, flight instruction and other aeronautical services to general aviation operators. As a general aviation airport, Meacham offers corporate jet flights and other services but not scheduled commercial flights. Though the terminal renovation requires City Council approval — and no date for council consideration has been set — Welstead is confident that the project will move forward. Funding all but $500,000 of the $14.5 million estimated cost would be city gas well tax revenues, with the Texas Department of Transportation funding the balance. Meanwhile, the state transportation agency is acting as Meacham’s agent in securing federal funding for taxiway and runway improvements planned to be constructed in the next three to four years. Other planned improvements include the American hangar renovation, budgeted at $10 million and funded by American Aero; constructing a new hangar on the airport’s west side, with tenant Richardson Aviation paying the $20 million cost; relocating a communications tower as part of that hangar project, expected to cost $2.2 million; and $30 million invested by American Aero for its office space along North Main Street. American Aero is an affiliate of Keystone Group LP, owned by Fort Worth financier and philanthropist Robert Bass. District 2 Councilman Sal Espino lauded the plan. “Fort Worth has a rich aviation history, and obviously Meacham is a part of that history,” Espino said.