Sep. 23—CHEYENNE — Cheyenne Regional Airport's main runway is set to close next spring in the final phase of the airport's runway reconstruction project.
Tim Bradshaw, the airport's director of aviation, said in a Thursday interview that the project calls for 160 days of work. He said it would likely begin around April 1, in an effort to avoid snow and "to be sensitive to our spring break travel." For Laramie County School District 1, spring break is the school week that ends on April 1.
"We're going to try to coordinate the schedule to where it has the least impact" on travel, Bradshaw said. The actual start date will depend on "a lot of factors."
The airport's shorter runway will remain open during this time, the director said. When asked whether this would affect airline service during construction, Bradshaw said that's still being determined.
"We're working with United and with SkyWest, who is our regional carrier, to try to see if they can still operate on the shorter runway, or if we need to change aircraft types," the director said. "We're working through those details right now so we can continue airline service, so we don't disrupt that."
The airport's functional runway space is also currently reduced, as crews complete work on the intersection of the two runways. The shorter, secondary runway, also called a "crosswind runway," is totally closed, and the primary runway has been reduced to about 6,000 feet.
According to AirNav.com, the airport's longer runway is 9,270 feet long, and the shorter runway is 6,690 feet long.
Bradshaw said that phase of the project is expected to conclude in about 30 days, when both runways would completely reopen until the next construction season.
After the conclusion of this multi-year, $62 million infrastructure project, the Cheyenne airport's runways should not need another total reconstruction until about 2072, Bradshaw said.
Wendy Volk, president of the Cheyenne Regional Air Focus Team, said in a Thursday interview that the completion of the runway project will make for "a brighter future" for the airport.
"I think the good news is, once we get this runway project completed, it will actually improve our opportunities to get more airlines to look at Cheyenne, because despite the challenges of this runway project, we still are getting great traction in terms of people in our area — not only locally, but in the region — flying in and out of Cheyenne because of ease and convenience," Volk said. She added that the project was "long overdue."
Commercial flights have been running at the airport since Nov. 1. SkyWest, a regional carrier for United Airlines, currently has two commercial flights to and from the Denver International Airport each day.
This came after periodic pauses in commercial service because of the COVID-19 pandemic and construction delays on previous phases of the runway project.
Since then, Bradshaw, who began the position on Dec. 1, said commercial flights have "done fairly well." Because the airport is currently operating on a shorter runway, planes that fly in and out of it have "a few less passengers," he said. But flights are running at about 65% of this reduced capacity, Bradshaw said.
"The airline industry itself is actually struggling with high fuel prices, labor shortages, pilot shortages. But travel demand is really up high," Bradshaw said.
"Our parking lot is maxed out," the director said. In fact, on Thursday, that was the case during a visit from a Wyoming Tribune Eagle editor. As Bradshaw noted, "people are still flying."
Hannah Black is the Wyoming Tribune Eagle's criminal justice reporter. She can be reached at email@example.com or 307-633-3128. Follow her on Twitter at @hannahcblack.