Monday, September 20, 2021
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Fort Worth

Meacham makeover project on track

🕐 6 min read

Fort Worth Meacham International Airport  

4201 N Main St

Fort Worth 76106


Renovation and expansion continues on the terminal and administration building at Fort Worth’s Meacham International Airport – the first major makeover at the 91-year-old general aviation airport in decades – with completion of the project on track by the end of the year.

The Fort Worth City Council approved in March 2014 the renovation and expansion of the airport’s main administration building, as well as for taxiway and runway improvements, to make the airport more attractive to prospective tenants.

The City Council approved additional construction plans in November 2015 to include a U.S. Customs facility along with a taxiway north of the administration building, underground utility work and some design changes. The additional construction plans pushed the total cost of the project from about $17.5 million to $21.4 million.

“Meacham is in a current state of evolution and it’s very exciting to be a part of it,” said airport manager Jeff Kloska. “The old and outdated administration building whose systems were failing is rising from the ashes so to speak. Right now all eyes are on the admin building getting done. It is truly a great time to be at the airport and we are confident in continued growth and success.”

The city and airport have provided much of the funding for the project with federal and state grants and revenue from mineral leases on airport property.

Several of the air hub’s fixed-based operators, as well as other tenants, are investing millions more dollars to expand and update the airfield’s facilities and property. Texas Jet, Delta Qualiflight Aviation Academy, Cornerstone Air Center, Richardson Aviation and the Fort Worth Police Department among others have recently completed new hangar projects or a major renovation of their existing facilities.

The airport’s oldest continually operating tenant is in an expansion mode as well.

“We have been providing aircraft maintenance and inspection services for corporate, private and charter aircraft operators since 1946,” said Allisen Prigel, managing director and granddaughter of the company’s founder. “Broadie’s Aircraft recognized the opportunity to significantly expand our capabilities by purchasing and renovating our new facility, and we are proud to enter in to our 70th year in aviation. We recently enhanced our service offerings to add a fully equipped mobile maintenance truck that covers Texas and surrounding states.”

In 2015, Broadie’s was named the Small Business of the Year in the 11 to 50 employee category by the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce.

The makeover of the administration building is being funding primarily by the city with the remainder of the investment coming from American Aero FTW, a fixed-based operator (FBO) owned by Fort Worth financier and philanthropist Robert M. Bass. FBOs focus on the refueling, ground handling, servicing and storing of business and private aviation aircraft.

American Aero will be the primary tenant – and the only FBO – in the new 75,000-square-foot facility, occupying 8,400 square feet of space.

“The city’s commitment to rebuild the terminal and invest in upgrading the airport created the opportunity to partner with the city to create a major gateway. American Aero FTW is the major tenant in the terminal, and we worked with the city to create a five-star experience for our tenants, the arriving and departing pilots, and their passengers,” Bass said.

In 2014, American Aero renovated the historic 1933 hangar at Meacham that once served as the original headquarters and office building of American Airways Southern Division. The hangar is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Additionally, American Aero is building 100,000 square feet of new hangars. The FBO purchased 64,000 square feet of additional hangar space and 2.3 acres of land at Meacham to build three hangars and a two-story office complex. The new hangars will accommodate any aircraft up to a Gulfstream G650.

“It’s been a fun project,” said Bob Agostino, vice president at American Aero FTW. “American Aero led this renaissance at Meacham Airport. It’s a purpose-designed evolution of the facility.

It’s truly a renaissance. This is brand new, very modern, high-end construction. The city will benefit for decades. The other operators on the field obviously are increasing their investment as well. The competition rate raises the bar for everybody.”

The FBO’s expansion and facelift of the administration facility will benefit the airport by bringing in new tenants, new fuel sales and more activity to the airport, says American Aero general manager Riggs Brown.

Takeoffs and landings at Meacham, which caters to a mix of corporate and general aviation users, continue to rise. According to Bill Welstead, the city’s aviation director, Meacham had a 22.27 percent increase in operations between 2014 and 2015. In 2015, 117,060 planes flew in and out of the airport, compared with 95,735 planes in 2014 and 89,332 planes in 2013.

In 2010, Meacham’s economic impact to the region was $164 million and $50 million in salary, wages and benefits. The airport employs more than 1,000 people, and that number is expected to grow with the added space and increased activity.

“We look forward to what the next economic impact study will show,” Kloska said.

The city and airport expect to see an increase in revenue from the new updated and upgraded tenant spaces in the administration building, including American Aero’s space, Kloska said.

“We will also be able to host events such as trainings, board meeting and wedding receptions in our new conference center on the third floor with a balcony overlooking the airfield,” said Kloska. “We will continue to draw tenants and users to the airport with top quality facilities such as the new admin building.”

An uptick in customs flights also is expected after the new facility comes online. The facility, located in the renovated administration building and being built at an estimated cost of $500,000, will allow customs flights that already come into Meacham to be able to arrive 24/7. Currently, customs flights can only arrive at certain times and according to the availability of Dallas-Fort Worth customs officers.

Agostino says American Aero is looking at its partnership with the city from a different perspective.

“We believe that this is about more than a private venture. This is about more than a commercial enterprise,” Agostino said. “It’s really about if this project will help the city grow in the future and grow in the proper way. It’s an effort to give the city of Fort Worth another tool in its toolbox to continue to develop properly in the community. Meacham is a key component to the health of the city.

“If you show me a city with a healthy airport I’ll show you a healthy city. The cities that have healthy aviation infrastructure are the cities that are reflecting major investments and that relates into more jobs,” he said.

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