Detroit’s bankruptcy could bring upgrades to Coleman A. Young International Airport

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DETROIT – An aging airport in Detroit could again get passenger service if $28.5 million in funding is approved as part of the city’s bankruptcy plan, officials said.

The money for Coleman A. Young International Airport on the city’s east side would pay to upgrade hangars and the airport’s passenger terminal, the Detroit Free Press reported (http://on.freep.com/1gUwpBD ). It also would fund a new loading bridge for passengers.

“I look at Detroit city airport and think it is a jewel that nobody’s polished,” said Michael Boyd, an aviation consultant and president of Colorado-based Boyd Group International. “Our idea is that it could be the thing that revitalizes that entire area. The airport has huge value both as a facility and also in terms of revitalizing that whole area of Detroit.”

The funding also could help pay personnel costs, including training and benefits, as well as maintenance and security at the facility. The plan from state-appointed emergency manager Kevyn Orr calls for investments in the airport over the next few years.

Known as City Airport, commercial passenger service ceased in 2000. Private pilots, cargo companies and charter operations still use the facility.

The airport is located on about 260 acres and is a relatively quick drive from downtown Detroit. Residential areas nearby have struggled with blight for years as the city’s population declined and earlier efforts to improve and expand the airport fell short.

Officials also are talking to two startup regional carriers about providing passenger service, airport manager Jason Watt said Thursday. Details weren’t released, but the planes could provide flights to destinations such as Chicago, Boston and New York, the newspaper reported.

“We’re nowhere near capacity, not even close,” Watt said.

In Orr’s plan, the city would explore a possible sale or lease of the airport but would continue to subsidize and operate it until that time. The proposed upgrades don’t include a runway extension or a new runway, something that observers have long said is needed, but officials are optimistic.

“The end goal to all of this is to turn the airport into a destination where people would like to come and benefit from all the wonderful things that are happening downtown,” Watt said. “Our location is second to none.”

The Detroit area’s main airport is Detroit Metropolitan Airport, which is located in the suburb of Romulus.

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Information from: Detroit Free Press, http://www.freep.com

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