Purdue University Airport considers commercial air service

A small airport in western Indiana is considering opening its runways to commercial airlines.

Purdue University Airport in West Lafayette has been reviewing data to see what improvements need to be made to support commercial service, The Journal and Courier reported .

The airport hadn't previously explored the option because of its proximity to larger airports in Indianapolis and Chicago.

But Adam Baxmeyer, the airport's new manager, said he believes commercial air service is possible. He said the airport has the runways, ramps and taxiways to support service, but that it needs to update the terminal in order to meet security standards.

Nearby Willard Airport at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana is welcoming new carriers and routes. The college town faces competition from Indianapolis, Chicago and four other airports that provide commercial service within a 90-minute drive.

"There are many similarities between our communities: comparable metropolitan areas, robust economies and both have university-owned and -operated airports," Baxmeyer said. "Champaign's recent successes in air service serve as an example and support the idea that we can accomplish similar success here."

Baxmeyer said the airport will work with community and business leaders on the plan and then pitch the idea to airlines.

"The manner in which airports most often obtain service is to assemble data that is key to the airlines, partnering with community leaders to establish a common goal and message, and then conducting visits to airlines," Baxmeyer said. "To return commercial service to the Purdue University Airport, a similar approach will be needed."

But Michael Boyd, an aviation industry expert and president of Boyd Group International Strategic Aviation Solutions in Evergreen, Colorado, said airlines tend to focus on larger cities, and he isn't optimistic.

"Ain't happening, guys," he said. "In this environment, it is every bit as likely as an Elvis sighting."

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