Glasgow Airport Closure Delayed
Runway Replacement At Least A Few Weeks Away
By Samar Fay, Courier Editor
Published: Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012
Last week’s announcement by Silver Airways of the closure of Glasgow International Airport for construction was premature.
Weather has delayed progress on the replacement of the main runway beyond the original estimate. The exact date when the airport must close for work on the intersection of the two runways is not known, but it will be the last week of July or the first week of August at the earliest, according to Mickey Bowman, Silver Airways’ vice president for Essential Air Service.
Bowman said Monday that the company can’t be more firm than that until July 9. The closure and the suspension of air service to Glasgow will last about three weeks.
“We had no more gotten that (announcement) out than we got a phone call – oh, by the way ...,” Bowman said. “It was quite the fire drill.”
Bowman said the company had made arrangements for its crews to overnight in Wolf Point. Its computers had blacked out flights to Glasgow for the announced July 9 through 28 construction period, but those flights have been reinstated.
Glasgow’s air ambulance service had also made plans for operations during the closure. Clay Berger, program director of the Northeast Montana STAT Air Ambulance Cooperative, said the operation would move to Poplar, where there is a hangar to protect the airplane and housing for the on-call staff of pilots and nurses. The Wolf Point airport is closer, but has no hangar.
Changing the closure dates may benefit the airport operator, Prairie Aviation. Manager Steve Stanley said last week that losing three weeks of fuel sales is a pretty big hit, and the timing was not great because they would lose business from travelers on their way to the famous air show in Oshkosh, Wisc., July 23-29. Now, with a bit of luck, the airport will be open for those travelers.
When the airport does close, Glasgow passengers can still fly Silver Airways to Billings out of Wolf Point.
The main runway has not been completely replaced since it was first installed in 1942, when the Glasgow Army Air Field was built. In those 70 years there have been numerous overlays but project manager Lance Bowser, an engineer with Robert Peccia and Associates in Helena, said the 5,000-foot-long runway is deteriorating underneath.
Workers are digging down 33 inches deep, replacing the old material with crushed gravel and asphalt. The $6.4 million project is being done under Federal Aviation Administration grants, with the local share of the cost at $224,000, according to Bowser.
Air traffic is using the secondary runway while construction workers replace both ends of the main runway. When workers reach the intersection at the center, all traffic will have to stop while they dig out and rebuild the intersection.
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