Saturday, November 28, 2015

Provology 101 - Provo Airport

Provology 101, a series of classes that give a behind-the-scenes look at how Provo City runs, has given City departments the chance to show and tell about what they do for Provo. One of the participants, Anona Sobczak, has been sharing her experiences on Facebook and gave us permission to share them with you.

I travel a lot, but this was the fastest I've ever gotten through security! We went behind the scenes at the Provo Airport (Part of the Public Works Department) and found out some interesting things. Did you know there is a moat around the airport? For security, but primarily to keep water off the runway. Also, I've always wondered how they can tell if you've paid for parking at the airport. Apparently they have a printout of what spots are paid for, and if your car is parked in a spot that hasn't been paid for, you get towed. The airport's commitment was to keep their parking fees half the price of the SLC airport, and they earn 110,000 a year in parking fees.
Provo Airport (PVU) is the second largest (or was it busiest?) airport in the state, with 9 flights that are usually well over 90% full. This means the terminal is near capacity, and there are plans to expand. There are no plans to add a runway or lengthen the existing one, as it can already handle a 737. The corporate flight market is also growing. People used to complain about noise, as inexperienced pilots would swing too far over the valley before they landed, so the airport made the pilots do a different approach than they normally would and swing over the lake to approach. The pilots don't like it, but you've got to keep the people happy!
It sounds like their dream over at PVU is to get a daily flight to Denver and a flight to L.A. with a carrier other than Allegiant, in order to capture business and MTC flyers. Allegiant's operating model focuses on leisure travelers only. An indoor baggage claim is also part of the dream, but because they are handling one flight at a time, the luggage gets out very quickly and there usually isn't much of a wait.
We got to tour the air traffic control tower which has amazing views at the top. Most air traffic controllers used to be in the military before moving to the private sector, which I thought was interesting. We met the employee on duty, who told us the hardest part of his job was staying mentally alert since they aren't allowed to listen to the radio, read, do sudoku, etc.
The airport employs 500 people and is one of the largest employers in the city. The city is working on the Westside connector road, which will ultimately be two lanes each way and will get people and commercial companies like FedEx to the airport quickly. It will tie into the freeway at University Avenue and be paved in May/June.

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