More than 70 airport staff and others who work with airports across Minnesota attended the annual AirTAP Fall Forum on September 26 and 27. This year’s event, held at the Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC) offices in Richfield, gave attendees an inside look at the MAC’s operations at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport with tours of various airport facilities and a drive around its perimeter.
MSP International is the 13th busiest airfield in North America and operates much like a small city.
“We’re essentially a public works department,” said Paul Sichko, assistant director for MSP maintenance and airside operations. Sichko led the tour group inside the 16 miles of security fence—reinforced since 9/11 to prevent vehicles from crashing through.
Along the route, the group got a look at how the airport will handle the snow and ice once it arrives: massive snow blowers, numerous deicing pads, and three in-ground snow melters that can liquefy 120 tons of snow per hour, Sichko noted. Inside the MAC’s Trades Building, attendees toured the carpentry, signage, painting, electrical, and plumbing operations. On hand were staff who create signage for all seven MAC airports, make and monitor keys for every lock, and paint markings on all airport pavement—including 20 runways and more than 21,000 parking stalls.
A stop at one of the airport’s two fire stations highlighted the vehicles and equipment capable of suppressing aviation jet fuel fires—and occasionally, an oil fire at a local refinery. Most calls for fire department personnel, however, are to the terminal buildings, where
they’ve saved numerous passengers, Sichko said.
Back at the MAC administrative facilities, Jeff Hamiel, executive director of the MAC, discussed findings from a recently completely economic impact study of MSP airport conducted by InterVISTAS Consulting. The study found that MSP supports more than 76,000 jobs, $10.1 billion in business revenue, $3 billion in personal income, $1.9 billion in local purchases, and $611 million in state and local taxes, Hamiel noted.
“The bottom line is we’re contributing to the overall economic stability of the region and the state.”
In 2012, MSP served 33 million passengers and accommodated 425,332 landings and takeoffs, making it 16th in North America for the number of travelers served. The 3.8 million annual domestic visitors spend $1.9 billion when they’re here. “People come to the Twin Cities, they stay in hotels, they buy food, they buy gifts, they spend their dollars, then they go back home again.”
MSP International is ninth among U.S. cities in number of nonstop markets overall; when ranked per capita, it’s fifth, Hamiel said—which is attributable in part to the market’s “phenomenal air service.”
Hamiel said the findings are relevant beyond MSP International; the state’s smaller airports and the communities they serve thrive “because in part there’s an aviation system that supports the connectivity of the customers and consultants and businesses and so forth—it’s all important to all of us.”
Other conference sessions covered airport emergency planning, minimum operating standards, and MnDOT Aeronautics’ new Capital Improvement Program web interface.