BTR to improve main runway, get new landing instruments
The Baton Rouge Metro Airport is getting ready for two runway enhancement projects that will help position the airport for future growth. One project, which will cost an estimated $2.8 million, will effectively lengthen the main runway about 1,000 feet by adding a new threshold on the front end and a new overrun on the back end. The other project, which will cost about $4.6 million, will involve the installation of a new instrument landing system that will make navigation easier for pilots in certain types of adverse weather conditions. Passengers will likely not notice much change, but airport spokesman Jim Caldwell says both enhancements are overdue and will help make the airport more attractive to potential carriers. "You want to continue to improve your facilities in anticipation of future growth," he says. Last May, Elite Airways, a charter airline based in Melbourne, Fla., announced it was planning to begin nonstop passenger service between Baton Rouge and several cities by summer. It hasn't happened yet, but Caldwell says the airport is still in contact with Elite and that the airline said as recently as last week it plans to begin startup service here. "You always want to remain optimistic," he says. "But we don't have anything definitive." Last month, airport officials confirmed that a 3,000-square-foot WOW Café and PJ's Coffee shop is planned to occupy existing restaurant space in the airport, just off of the recently renovated rotunda. Officials anticipate a March opening of the combined café and coffee shop. —Stephanie Riegel
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