Eureka airport casts eye north

November 27, 2006 11:00 pm

By Cornelia de Bruin

Triplicate staff writer

As Del Norte County reaches across state lines for help in transforming its sagging passenger numbers into a regional airport, a facility that routinely draws passengers from here is about to unveil results of a year-long study that will be used to attract more services to Humboldt County.

Results of a passenger data study will be released during a public meeting planned Wednesday at the Wharfinger Building in Eureka, Arcata/Eureka Airport Manager Jacquelyn Hulsey said.

The study, nearly a year in the making, will be unveiled by airport expansion consultant Mike Boggs of Mead & Hunt.

The airport recorded a banner year in 2005 when 110,000 passengers boarded flights from there.

Its study responds to that figure in finding out where passengers want to travel so the airport's flights better accommodate their needs. The study ended in July.

The airport is already involved in a passenger terminal expansion and improvement project.

Hulsey worked previously at a small airport in Visalia. The facility faced problems similar to those Del Norte County's airport faces.

"Their willingness to work with Oregon to find a solution is a new way of doing business," she said of the county and Crescent City's willingness to reach across the northern border to seek help. "It's good."

Del Norte Airport and its backers hope to position the smaller facility here as a regional airport.

To do so it faces somewhat of a chicken and egg quandary.

To be able to apply for funds it needs for its expansion plans, Airport Manager Jim Bernard must first build an on-site fire station to comply with FAA regulations.

That's in the works now, with bids being advertised and accepted until Dec. 6 and then opened that day.

Airport Manager Jim Bernard recently announced a facelift and amenities project to improve the Del Norte County facility's appearance and amenities.

The terminal building offers duct taped seats and a women's rest room that is frequently reported to be out of order.