EL DORADO, Arkansas (08/20/19) — Travelers coming through the South Arkansas Regional Airport could see some big changes as they’re passing through.
“We received up to a million dollars from the El Dorado Works Board and hopefully that will be matched by the economic development board on a federal level,” Airport Manager Johnathan Estes, said.
That will give them $2 million dollars to restore their historic terminal and make improvements. The rare gem was built during World War II.
“It was going to be used for military operations during the Second World War II,” Estes said. “There’s not many terminals like this.”
The airport was selected to be listed on the National Register of Historical Places in August 2018. In February, airport staff and local officials joined together to place the official plaque underneath the building’s numbers.
Much of the architectural design will be taking a blast back to the past to preserve its history, keeping the 1940’s look and feel.
The building will remain in its boxy, militaristic style but they plan on making sure the traveler experience is up-to-date from the outside of the building to the inside.
The architecture still has the original drawing of when the terminal was first built and they’re going to use that in the renovations.
“It’s been a goal for a lot of people outside of the city to restore the terminal back to its original looks and feel,” Estes said. “We’ll modernize a little bit of the technology and update the code.”
There will also be upgrades to the plumbing, air conditioning systems and electrical components. They will also buy new furnishings and add more color. They’ve already expanded flight options to travelers, the most recent being a direct flight to Memphis.
Pilots will also reap the benefits of the restoration. They will have a flight lining room where whey can do all of their planning, a larger pilot’s lounge that will include a kitchen area and a shower area.
There will also be a larger fixed-based operator on the field, which will provide aircraft fueling and maintenance services.
The airport already provides economic benefits to El Dorado through the spending by visitors passing through and on-airport activities of business and organizations.
Estes hopes the exterior and interior changes will attract even more business from customers.
“People traveling to Memphis and Dallas crossing through El Dorado. This is the only impression that they’ll have of our city,” he said. “If we don’t leave a good impression then they may not come back and spend money on Music Fest and things like that.”
The South Arkansas airport was also able to secure more funding from the El Dorado Works Board.
According to an article written by the El Dorado News Times, the board approved a $300,000 purchase of 50 acres around the airport. Trees will cut to create a safer area for airplanes as they approach the airport’s runway.
The board also agreed to spend $3,500 to purchase a flat tire dolly to tow a plane with a flat tire off of the runway.
The restoration project will begin once the funding is acquired.