Great Bend airport favors keeping long runway

GREAT BEND, Kan. (KSNW) — The Great Bend Municipal Airport has one of the longer runways in Kansas, at almost eight-thousand feet. The main runway is used for more than half of the airport’s operations, but the Federal Aviation Administration has rated it in poor condition.

KSN reached out to the FAA, they said: “..the runway is showing visible signs of deterioration and is in need of rehabilitating.”

The good news? The FAA is willing to repair it, funding 90% of it. However, it would only repair 5,500 feet of the runway — meaning the airport would have to find the funds to repair the remaining length of the runway.

Great Bend’s airport manager said the airport’s long runway attracts many planes because of safety.

“It makes the margin of error larger for them, so they could get themselves down and takeoff safely,” said Martin Miller.

According to Miller, a shorter runway could mean fewer planes using the airport. He added that planes use the airport’s fuel stops.

Miller said he’s already heard concerns from pilots.

“You’ll hear them say, ‘If you take this down much shorter, we’ll have to find another place to stop for fuel,'” he said.

KSN asked how fuel sales at the airport affect Great Bend’s economy.

“That generates for the city, not only a fuel flow per gallon income, but also a sales tax benefit because of the taxing of the fuel,” said Miller. “The state of Kansas also benefits from that quantity.”

Miller said he believes the city recognizes the value of a longer runway and has been supportive during this time of uncertainty.

Airport and city officials are now gathering data to show the FAA that repairing the runway at its full length is still viable. Officials said they don’t have an estimate of how much it would cost yet.