I want to build an airport...or do I!?

23 Replies

Hi BP! I was just thinking... If you find a suburb with consistent growth, growing number of jobs and diversified industries, a nearby bustling metro, talks of public transportation... would you build an airport? Or would you buy an already existing private airport and expand? Or neither? Why?

@Jorge De Jesus - never thought about that as a play. I could only imagine the regulations you would have to jump through with creating a new airport. 

Are you asking out of curiosity or are you looking at making an offer on something?

This would definitely be interesting. I imagine the government would have to do a survey and see how close you are to other airports (if making your own). Too many hoops to jump through for my liking though. Good luck!

I would need more information on how this idea came to be. If I had the opportunity to acquire an airport, I would choose to purchase one. I dont know all the ins and outs of airport construction, but even if I did, I think I would still buy an existing one. Without any other details, it just seems easier to me, if you are set on buying property like that

There IS an existing one, I’d be interested in starting a relationship with the owner. And I suppose it’s mainly curiosity but partially it’s an “is this viable? Are there other social markers to consider and am I already seeing them?”type of question. I’m just getting older and want to make leaps forward, not steps. Though there is value in steps.

Airports are a bit pricy and require probably about 800,000 government permits, so you might be trying to bite off more than you can chew. 

Depends on what type of airport. If you are talking about purchasing an existing private airport then its not as bad as people are letting on. I have never done it myself, but my wifes uncle owns an airport and about 25 airplanes where they offer chartered flights for people. They stay busy and just going by their house and cars, I'm assuming they are doing quite well with it. 

One of my customers owns a small airport ..  When it was built it was all farm land . Now its suburbia .  The new neighbors tried long and hard to shut him down . He beat them . And to send a message he also owned farm land that backed up to $ 750,000 houses . It hadent been farmed in a while , so he came in and cleared the trees and started farming it . 

In this day and age far more airports are closing than opening.   Fly-in communities are quite exclusive.  I live in the Denver area and there are at least four that I'm aware of within about 40 miles or so of the metro area.  The one to the south is Kelly Airpark (http://www.kellyairpark.org/) and you have to be quite well heeled to live in that community.  There's Erie Airport (https://www.erieco.gov/93/Airport) which is north of Denver.  Homes in that area range from a million or two on one end of the field to the high six figures to the other end.  The airport has a history with trying to stay open and eventually the city took it over, closing the crosswind runway much to the dismay of the home owners.  There's also Parkland Estates (http://parklandestatesairpark.org/) which is north of the Erie airport.  The homes for that area are right in line with the normal homes in the Colorado area (still expensive) and then there is Van Aire (http://www.vanaireskyport.org/) which fought to stay open when DIA was built 25 years ago.  The airspace for DIA was going to encroach into that area and threatened to shut the airport side of the community down.  I've flown in there since DIA opened and the airspace is VERY tight for flying.  The homes are considerably older and many of them are needing flipping.  

There are these types of communities throughout the country and many of the homes are advertised in aviation magazines.

Most of these types of communities have restrictions around the type of homeowner that can purchase property there.  The primary requirement is at least one of the owners is required to be an active pilot.

The the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 (https://www.faa.gov/airports/airport_compliance/re...) resulted in the laws being setup for these types of communities called "Through the fence".  I'm not totally familiar with what the laws allow (or don't allow) you to do, but I do know since 9/11 things have gotten a bit more restrictive (unnecessarily so) for these types of things.

Interestingly enough, I don't believe there is any requirement for building your own runway at your home.  I know of at least one individual who has done so.

Regardless, if you do go forward with it, you're gonna need to have a lot of legal work done and even more money.  There's a saying in aviation - "how do you make a million dollars?  Start with ten."  I'd imagine if you tack real estate onto that process you would need to start with a hundred million.

Best of luck obviously.  

Brian

Oh one more - I stumbled across this while doing some more looking around... http://www.airportairparkhomes.com/listings.asp  Looks like a somewhat comprehensive listing of at least the majority of current fly-in communities.

I actually know someone that just sold one in the last couple of months.  It would absolutely be easiest to partner with someone that has one that is open.  It is hard to open one.

If anyone did not know, the FAA basically decides where all commercial airports are located.  They are heavily subsidized and their competition is tightly controlled.  They are also normally governmental or quasi governmental.

instead of an airport just scour the existing airports and find ones you can build hangers 

Hanger rentals in a area were there is a need. is FAR better than any SFR rental.

you get paid and there is no maintenance to speak of. 

WE own a Hanger Condo on our field we paid 250k for it.  developer did quite well.

we are the little guys most of our neighbors have Jets and or a multi million dollar car collection.

its where the money crowd hangs out to wrench on their toys.

Originally posted by @Brian Garrett :

Oh one more - I stumbled across this while doing some more looking around... http://www.airportairparkhomes.com/listings.asp  Looks like a somewhat comprehensive listing of at least the majority of current fly-in communities.

 Thank you for the great info, I’ll start perusing here shortly

Originally posted by @Jay Hinrichs :

instead of an airport just scour the existing airports and find ones you can build hangers 

Hanger rentals in a area were there is a need. is FAR better than any SFR rental.

you get paid and there is no maintenance to speak of. 

WE own a Hanger Condo on our field we paid 250k for it.  developer did quite well.

we are the little guys most of our neighbors have Jets and or a multi million dollar car collection.

its where the money crowd hangs out to wrench on their toys.

 That just gave me tons of eye-opening ideas, thank you. I’m looking at land near one of the private airports...

@Jorge De Jesus - I'd suggest contacting the AOPA  (https://www.aopa.org/about/contact-aopa)  Not sure who there could help but they are a great resource for private pilots.

I know at the airport I fly out of, there's around 300 people on a waiting list for a hangar.  It's a slow process to move up the list, so that may be part of the reservation length.  If someone was able to work through the red tape at the county airport and built a bunch of hangars, they'd likely make a pretty decent and consistent return on their investment.

I love this concept! Never owned an airport, but can speak from the experience of growing up on a community airport in Central CA. It is a niche community where the HOAs have regulations like, each house must have a hanger on their property for a plane. From a position of attracting buyers for the homes surrounding the airport, it certainly does that and helps boost the home prices. The people that live in this community and others like it are very involved and work together to keep their properties looking good. As the lots in this airport community have sold, supply has dwindled and demand has gotten higher for people to move into this coveted neighborhood. My parent's place has increased in price dramatically. The original owner's family still lives there, if you have any specific questions I would be happy to try to get some answers from them for you.

As mentioned above...airports can be a costly venture and they can be quite complicated due to FAA rules - BUT LOTS OF FUN :)   There is a ton of information out there though to help you.   AOPA.org is great.  Also, the TRB / ACRP (Airport Cooperative Research Program) has fantastic publications to assist people with airport related matters.  I was on the panel for this publication which can give you some great insights - https://www.nap.edu/catalog/24863/generating-revenue-from-commercial-development-on-or-adjacent-to-airports   Also, see reports 114 (Thru the fence ops) and report 47 (Leasing airport property) available on the same site.  Our group does a lot of airport biz - just finishing the Terminal redevelopment at Scottsdale Airport which was a lot of fun...info on the Scottsdale website.   Any questions, any time...just give me a call or email.  Best of luck to you!