Lawton_Since Delta has started flying passengers out of the Lawton-Fort Sill Regional Airport this year, planes aren't the only things taking off - flights have increased drastically. Since March, Delta's daily flights have had a ripple effect on all tenants at the airport. It's led to an increase in business and increased airport revenue. Airport Manager Barbara MCNally says the airport will have earned a profit of $90,000 more for its budget than anticipated.
A lot of changes are being made at the airport, some of them vital to passenger safety, especially with an increase of more than 1,000 passengers departing from the airport in this year alone. "We've increased our passengers from May of this year comparing it to May of last year, 35%, so that's quite a few people that will be going to the airport," says McNally.
Delta has contributed to the increase of passengers, and American Airlines is replacing their 34-seat airplanes with 66-seat aircrafts - which will change how airport security operates. "It puts us into a different category of security," says McNally. "The passengers aren't going to see anything obviously different, but there's going to be a significant difference in the way we operate here." Since TSA puts the Lawton-Fort Sill Regional Airport in a higher security bracket, changes must be made.
Some changes the airport will be making are as simple as replacing the key and lock system with swipe card keys, but other changes are more difficult to make. "There will be security background checks on anyone who has access to the air side, closed circuit cameras, and those kind of things...just to be able to monitor better," McNally says.
In addition to providing more security for passenger safety, changes will be made to increase passenger comfort. "The first phase of our expansion plan is to increase our boarding gate area, add additional restrooms down there, and probably facilities - either vending machines or for a vendor - to have some kind of [food] service down there," says McNally.
McNally says that despite the increase in business, currently it's only offsetting their additional fuel expenses.
The Lawton-Fort Sill Regional Airport usually recommends passengers to be at the airport 60 minutes prior to departure, and now that there is an increase in passengers, they recommend arrival 90 minutes before take-off.