The Port of Olympia will hold its third public open house on the Olympia Regional Airport Master Plan Update (MPU) on Thursday, May 26, 2022, from 2 – 3:30 p.m. via Zoom.
For details about the open house or to register to participate online, click this link.
About the Airport Master Plan
The Airport Master Plan is a long-term planning document that examines current conditions and projects future aviation and non-aviation needs for the community and the airport. These requirements guide the master planning process and serve as the foundation for identifying the Airport's suitable function and future growth. The previous plan was completed in 2013 and is available on the Port’s website.
The Port's Airport Master Plan web page includes the Airport Layout Plan (ALP). The ALP is a visual conceptual development plan that outlines changes required to solve design flaws, increased aviation demand, and changing conditions and situations at the airport. The Federal Aviation Administration has given its approval to the ALP. All proposed future developments will be subjected to a rigorous state and federal environmental study as required by law.
Commercial Aviation Coordinating Commission (CACC)
At the same time the Port of Olympia is making its plans, the CACC is studying airports and land throughout the Puget Sound area as it works to deliver to the Washington State Legislature a single preferred location for a new commercial service airport. The recommendation is due by February 15, 2023, a date that was pushed back by 13 months due to the pandemic. The Legislature’s stated goal is to have a new commercial airport to be operational by 2040.
On February 9, 2022, the CACC issued its “final short list” report to the Legislature which listed six airports it recommends for further study. Olympia Regional Airport is not on that list. The list included only one airport, Snohomish County (Paine Field) Airport, as having “potential for additional commercial passenger service and air cargo capacity.” The other five listed were indicated to have only “potential for additional general aviation capacity.” In other words, if Paine Field is not selected to become the new SeaTac, the CACC will continue to search for either an existing airport or a parcel of land that could be developed into a new “greenfield” airport.
During a January 6, 2022 meeting of the CACC, Chair David Fleckenstein explained to State Representative Tina Orwall the reason that Olympia Regional Airport was no longer being considered. He said “there was no sponsor support from the Port of Olympia to have Olympia on the list. So when we went through the initial filtering of the airports, it was removed because of that.”
Data presented at the January 6 meeting (see Slide 13 above this story) indicated that 69 percent of CACC commissioners offered feedback that Olympia Regional Airport offered "potential for accommodating additional" air passenger and air cargo service; 100 percent offered feedback that additional general aviation capacity could be developed.
Despite official claims that Olympia Regional Airport is not being considered for use as a commercial cargo or passenger service airport, there are two scenarios in which Thurston County could find plans for a bigger or new airport in its future:
It would take only two votes of the three-member commission for this to happen.
Recent local comments
"CACC members reportedly show little concern about impacts to our quality of life," said former Olympia Mayor Bob Jacobs.
Lee Riner, who says she has family near Sea-Tac Airport, commented about how aircraft may harm public health in terms of pollutants, noise, and stress. She said her family members who resided along the SeaTac flight path had asthma. Their health "deteriorated year after year," she added.
Some local business leaders have commented that additional aviation business at the airport would be good for the local economy and increase the value of land surrounding the airport.
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